Carnegie Mellon University will open a branch campus in Rwanda next year, making it the first American university to do so in central Africa.

The students who attend the programme in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, will get exactly the same diploma as those who attend Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus, officials told The Associated Press. Credits from the two programmes will even be fully transferable. Rwanda's President Paul Kagame will give a speech later Friday in Pittsburgh, announcing details of the programme. The first degree offered will be a Master of Science in Information Technology.

Branch campuses are common in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, Europe, and China, as are student exchange programmes. But actually opening a higher education facility in central Africa is an entirely different thing, said Bruce Jones, a professor at New York University and author of Peacekeeping in Rwanda, an analysis of the events that led to the country's 1994 genocide.

The programme will target students from east Africa, and will give preference to Rwandan citizens, the university said. However, students from around the world can apply.

During the genocide, extremist Hutus killed more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

Almost a generation later, Rwanda has won praise for a growing economy, promoting women's rights and cracking down on corruption. But activists say the economic gains have not been matched by growing freedoms.

More In: Comment | Opinion