USAID Administrator Mark Green's Remarks at the Launch of the Centers for Excellence


For Immediate Release

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

March 26, 2019
Ain Shams University
Cairo, Egypt

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Good morning. Thank you for that wonderful introduction. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation; Dr. Khaled Abdul Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; Dr. Abdel Wahab Ezzat, President of Ain Shams University; distinguished scholars; faculty; and honored guests.

It truly is an honor to be here on this inspiring occasion, one that reflects not only the deep friendship and productive partnership between the United States and Egypt, that more importantly lays a path for an even brighter future, closer partnership, and an opportunity for young people throughout Egypt to be able to tap into their potential.

Since arriving here last Friday, I have had the opportunity to visit several locations throughout Egypt and to see, firsthand, what our two countries have been able to accomplish by working closely together. And I want to thank all of you, and the government, for helping to make that possible.

I would also like to thank Minster Ghaffar for his vision and leadership. He has helped to build a higher education partnership, not just here, but around the world. His work with USAID in support of Egypt's ambitious higher education goals is helping students to reach out and achieve their dreams. Those students will become the leaders, the innovators, and the problem-solvers of tomorrow, lifting communities, lifting the future, for years to come.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the university and its leadership for hosting this launch event today.

We are here today to launch a bold new U.S-Egypt collaborative initiative: the creation of three academic Centers of Excellence that will focus on cutting-edge research in agriculture, energy, and water. And we know that these three areas in particular, are irreplaceable if we're going to build together that brighter future.

In America, Centers of Excellence across the country have long connected scientists and researchers from complementary academic fields and different institutions, breaking down walls, allowing them to exchange ideas and to tackle challenges together. The collaboration that these centers have facilitated is responsible for some of the most significant breakthroughs and scientific achievements in recent history.

Later this year, in July, the United States will celebrate the 50th anniversary of one such achievement: the Apollo 11 mission that first put humans on the moon, where they landed in what we call the Sea of Tranquility. Many of you likely know that the location of the Apollo 11 landing was chosen by a team led by Farouk El-Baz, an Egyptian scientist. Farouk grew up in Egypt and was -- he, in fact, a graduate of this very university. Coincidentally, he also spent time studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, these two universities will lead up the Center of Excellence in Energy.

At the time of his work on the Apollo 11 mission, Farouk actually worked in the private sector. He was a scientist with a division of the telecommunications company AT&T. Such an arrangement was not out of the ordinary. The Apollo missions, and many other scientific achievements of the last century, were truly the result of academia, government, and private enterprise coming together to share ideas, and to mobilize ideas, and to build on the expertise that each institution would bring.

These partnerships have not only led to crowning achievements like the moon landing. They have also been crucial to advances that have benefited all of humanity. Collaborations between the private sector, academia, and government have created the technologies that are the foundations of modern telecommunications, revolutionized healthcare tools and practices, and produced innovations in how we generate and use energy, and, of course, the list goes on and on.

These collaborations have also driven economic growth and job creation. Over the past 50 years, innovation and new technologies have been key to creating prosperity all over the world, including in developing countries, countries in East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. That prosperity has enabled countries to reduce their reliance on foreign assistance and to begin to lead their own development journeys.

At USAID, we believe, fundamentally, in the innate desire of every human being, every community, every county, to want to craft and lead their own bright future, to become what we call, self-reliant. And when our friends show us that they are willing to take the difficult steps to take on the reforms, to make the investments that Egypt has, well, then we feel a special obligation to walk alongside them as they go on their journey to self-reliance and, eventually, bold prosperity.

Today is important because we take another important step in that journey. These Centers of Excellence will not only help facilitate solutions to some of Egypt's most pressing agriculture, energy, and water challenges. It will also position this beautiful country to be a regional and a global leader in the knowledge economy.

As a wise man once said, "The empires of the future will not be the empires of the (inaudible). They will be the empires of the mind." And so, tapping into the minds of Egyptian young people is absolutely the key, not just to Egypt's future, but to the world's future. Ideas generated through the collaborations at these Centers of Excellence may just be the spark that ignites the next big technology development, spurring new industries and prosperity all across Egypt.

I want to congratulate the universities that are the front of this exciting venture. And that's the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ain Shams University, who will lead the Center for Excellence for Energy. Cornell and Cairo Universities, who will lead the Center of Excellence for Agriculture. And the American University in Cairo and Alexandria University, which will lead the Center of Excellence in Water.

These are great institutions. And they have great young minds, fully banded together, will indeed produce the empires of the mind and the future of this region and the world. I am confident that, together, you will achieve truly great things, not only for the benefit of Egyptians and Americans, but, also, the greater global community. Today is an important step in that journey. Today is a moment for true celebration. I look forward to seeing the innovations that will occur. I look forward to seeing the prosperity that will come.

Last updated: December 10, 2019

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