Rwanda is recovering from an unprecedented genocide and is making impressive development strides. The economy grew at an average annual rate of almost 10 percent a year between 1995 and 2005. The Government of Rwanda has introduced market reforms and privatized many state-owned enterprises. Economic and political governance has improved dramatically. The government has introduced measures to promote reconciliation and peace. Poverty and mortality rates are down significantly, while immunization and literacy rates have risen substantially. These results are impressive. But growth is beginning to slow, as the natural rebound effects from the depths of the genocide begin to wear off. And Rwanda still has a long way to go before it achieves the MDGs and raises per capita incomes even to lower-middle-income levels.
With this in mind, the Government's Vision 2020 Statement, its National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NSTIP), and related policy documents identify two critical development challenges. The first involves improving the quality of life, raising the standard of living, and meeting such everyday needs of the rural poor as increasing access to clean water, food security, and electricity. This challenge also involves increasing the productivity of farmers engaged in subsistence agriculture. Achieving these objectives would provide a major boost to national welfare and would go a long way toward helping Rwanda achieve the MDGs.
The second challenge involves generating wealth and boosting income levels through higher-value jobs. With a per capita income of only $0.71 a day, Rwanda needs to boost per capita income by 40 percent just to lift people above the $1 a day poverty line. Put differently, if Rwanda hopes to become more prosperous, it must find ways to reduce the ranks of the rural poor, not merely develop technologies that make life more tolerable for them. Reducing the ranks of the poor must entail creating more-productive, higher-paying jobs outside or alongside subsistence agriculture; developing new, higher-value-added exports; and improving the quality of science and technical education at all levels.
Both challenges entail building STI capacity. Rwanda cannot hope to achieve the MDGs if it does not have the scientific, engineering, and technical/vocational capacity to handle such mundane but vital tasks as delivering clean drinking water to a rural village or preventing food from rotting shortly after it is harvested. Rwanda cannot hope to prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy and open trading system if it does not build the appropriate science, technology, innovation-entrepreneurial, engineering, and technical/vocational capacity to produce more value-added goods and services.
Fortunately, much of the science, engineering, and technical knowledge needed to achieve these objectives already exists and is widely used outside Rwanda. Unfortunately, this knowledge is not being applied in Rwanda. From this perspective, therefore, the STI capacity-building challenge is to train farmers, entrepreneurs, engineers, technicians, scientists, and teachers to find the appropriate knowledge, import it, adapt it to local conditions, and use it to solve local problems and produce and market higher-value, more knowledge-intensive goods and services.
To meet these challenges, Rwanda will need to improve the quality of its applied engineering and scientific research institutes as well as its technical and vocational education. It will also have to focus more of its teaching and research efforts on training Rwandans to use this knowledge to develop, produce, and deploy such simple, low-cost technologies as more efficient wood burning stoves; manual irrigation pumps; food-processing and storage equipment; more efficient, low-cost construction materials and methods; and nonelectrical refrigeration and food-cooling equipment.
Enterprises will not be able to exploit the competitive opportunities generated by appropriate technologies if local enterprises do not have the organizational and managerial skills and the technical competence to build businesses around these technologies and their workers do not have the skills to use new technology to perform more complex tasks. Rwanda suffers from a shortage of skilled technicians and craftspeople. At the same time, graduates from the few technical and vocational schools that do exist are having difficulty finding jobs, apparently because graduates do not receive appropriate training. STI capacity building, therefore, needs to encompass innovative ways of delivering and financing technical and vocational education.
To begin this process, the Government of Rwanda and the World Bank, with financial support primarily from the Norwegian Post-Primary Education Trust Fund, embarked on a two-stage STI capacity-building program. The first stage involved assembling teams of Rwandan and international experts to prepare a series of STI capacity-building needs assessments and action plans (NAAPs). This stage is expected to be followed by a second stage, in which the Bank and donors finance the implementation of the recommendations in the NAAPs.
Following several months of detailed consultation with government officials, university rectors, directors of national training institutions, bilateral donors, private sector support organizations, industry associations, entrepreneurs, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders, it was agreed that the technical assistance program should focus on the preparation of a series of NAAPs in six high-priority areas, as defined in Rwanda's Vision 2020 Statement and NSTIP: food-processing, value-added exports, development and diffusion of appropriate technologies, delivery of clean drinking water, geosciences and geothermal energy, and client-focused agricultural research and outreach.
Each NAAP attempts to answer three broad questions: What is Rwanda's current capacity? What capacity does Rwanda need? What specific policies and programs are needed to build this capacity? The NAAPs did not ask if there would be demand for this capacity once it was created. Conducting an analysis of market demand for such items as processed food or electricity generated from geothermal energy was beyond the scope of these STI capacity-building studies. Nevertheless, demand is important, and the NAAPs did not simply assume that demand would automatically be present if the requisite capacity were developed. On the contrary, the expert teams relied on published reports that covered demand-side issues extensively (see appendix 1). Consultations and interviews with agencies and institutions in Rwanda (identified in appendix 3) helped refine the demand-side aspects of a given sector.
Several broad principles for building STI capacity emerged from the NAAPs and related work:
* STI capacity building should focus on finding practical solutions to practical problems. Especially for small countries like Rwanda that are at an early stage of the development process, broad, unfocused efforts to build science in general will probably not have the desired developmental impact.
* STI capacity building is a cross-cutting issue with a direct impact on such diverse programs as private sector development, rural and agricultural development, eRwanda, infrastructure and sustainable energy development, and education, among others. It would be difficult, for example, to improve agricultural productivity and raise the cash incomes of rural farmers without training them to employ modern cultivation techniques and to utilize more knowledge-intensive inputs. Thus, training farmers--and training extension agents to train farmers--can be classified as both STI capacity building and agricultural development.
* Because STI capacity building is a cross-cutting issue, something as seemingly simple as developing a food-processing industry or improving the competitiveness of the food-processing industry requires coordinated action across a large number of ministries and agencies. Failure to coordinate and integrate actions and policies across disparate sectors runs the risk that the capacity-building program will not achieve its objectives and that the money invested by other agencies and organizations will not produce the desired result. Although the program may produce voluminous outputs, there will be a paucity of satisfactory outcomes.
* Individual sector reforms are necessary, but by themselves, they will not lead to the emergence of a food-processing industry or help Rwanda to deliver clean water to rural villages. Sector reforms must be complemented by a problem-solving approach that cuts across sectors and builds coherent, integrated capacity in all required areas.
* STI capacity building is not only about scientists working in research laboratories. All levels of technology and skills--ranging from sophisticated scientists to engineers and technical and vocational workers--have to be developed, in the appropriate proportions and sequence.
* STI capacity building is not just about research and development. It is also about getting knowledge out of the laboratory and into the market. Knowledge diffusion is a critical component of the capacity-building process. This means that the private sector must have the marketing, management, and entrepreneurship capacity to utilize new and existing knowledge to produce higher-value-added, more knowledge-intensive goods and services. Supporting the development of entrepreneurship, marketing, and management skills must therefore be essential elements of Rwanda's STI capacity-building program. Rwandan workers must receive the training they need to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks.
* Public-private partnerships are an essential aspect of STI capacity building. The government has an indispensable role to play in supporting essential research, providing basic education, and creating an environment that will enable the private sector to create the jobs that will diversify the economy and generate wealth. But government investments in science and education will not bear fruit unless government capacity-building programs are consistent with the needs and requirements of the private sector. Developing these programs in partnership with the private sector is the best way to ensure the required consistency.
* Because STI capacity building is a multisectoral, cross-cutting issue, an effective capacity-building program must put a premium on developing high-quality implementation and coordination capacity within the government. Donor harmonization, along the lines of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, will be critically important.
* Given the complexity of STI capacity-building programs, committed leadership is essential. This commitment must start at the top, but it cannot be isolated there. The commitment must flow from the top to middle and lower layers of the bureaucracy and permeate the strata of civil society.
* Technical and research institutions perform poorly because of weak or ill-conceived incentive structures. Improving incentives, boosting institutional performance, and building an institutional culture of innovation are requisite components of STI capacity-building programs.
* There are potential advantages to being a latecomer. A latecomer such as Rwanda does not have to invent everything it needs. It can achieve significant results and solve many problems by adapting and using off-the-shelf technology. However, even this seemingly simple task requires significant investments in capacity building.
* STI capacity building is not only about high tech. Producing high-quality coffee, silk, and roses, as Rwanda expects to do, requires significant scientific, engineering, and technical capacity.
* STI capacity alone cannot solve all the problems of a sector. Finance, entrepreneurship, fiscal incentives, regulatory measures, government regulations, government support programs, and public--private partnerships are critical elements that must function properly for STI capacity building to deliver concrete results.
* Innovation must be a way of life for everyone, not a sporadic activity of a few isolated scientists.
In addition to these broad general lessons of experience, the following specific recommendations emerged from the individual NAAPs:
Raising agricultural yields will not improve food security if surplus food rots because it cannot be safely processed and stored. Appropriate technologies need to be developed and deployed to process and store food without utilizing large amounts of (unavailable) electricity. Developing a food-processing industry would also help generate off-farm income in rural areas. This, in turn, would help meet the government's objective of providing employment and income-generating opportunities in rural areas without pushing people off the land and into urban slums. A functioning food-processing industry would also help Rwanda transform its agricultural produce into higher-value products (such as fruit juices, chilled vegetables, dried fruit, and processed meat) for export and local markets. Indeed, according to the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA), Rwanda lacks the capacity to meet the potential demand for its produce.
A shortage of STI capacity in the food-processing industry is the chief constraint to growth. The capacity problem exists at all levels:
* Farmers and producer cooperatives lack the skills they need to process their output (the ability to crush fruit to produce pulp or cool milk so that it does not spoil before reaching urban consumers, for example) before selling it to processing firms. As a result, they receive only a fraction of the potential revenue they could potentially generate.
* There is a shortage of trained food technicians and food scientists.
* Because of the shortage of trained hygiene specialists, food products frequently fail to meet health and environmental quality standards.
* Farmers and food-processing firms lack adequate awareness of technological options for improving quality and productivity.
* Regulatory agencies, such as the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) and the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), lack the technical capacity to define and enforce health and environment standards.
In addition to these human resource constraints, electricity is not available in most rural areas and is extremely expensive in areas where it does exist. Road transport facilities, especially from remote rural areas, are poor and expensive. Customs and environmental regulations have the unintended effect of hampering the development of a local food-processing industry.
The recommendations in this report address all of these issues. Specific recommendations include the following:
* Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) courses are typically taught and formulated without input from potential private sector employers. TVET schools should start piloting hands-on courses for food technicians, in close consultation with local and regional industry leaders.
* Courses at universities and engineering schools must become more practical and less theoretical. To forge closer links with industry, the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management (KIST) should establish "production units" that function as microenterprises for dairy or meat processing.
* Industrial apprenticeships should be created for food science students at local and regional firms.
* Industry and local research centers should design joint research programs to build and utilize applied research and development (R&D) capacity to solve practical problems in food-processing and packaging (such as the lack of environmentally safe and low-priced food-packaging materials). Competitive grants can provide useful incentives to local research centers for conducting such industry-focused collaborative research.
* Regulatory agencies need greater technical capacity to design and enforce effective food safety and food hygiene standards that do not inadvertently deter the development of the food-processing industry. Local technical institutes can play a crucial role in building technical capacity in regulatory agencies. KIST and the National University of Rwanda (NUR), for example, can offer technical courses tailored to meet the special technical needs of regulatory agency staff.
In the past five years, Rwanda has developed high-value-added export industries in coffee, roses, and pyrethrum. Private investors have plans to move into additional value-added sectors, including tea, silk, herbs and essential oils, and specialty vegetables. Investments in each of these existing and proposed ventures share several common features:
* They have carved out a niche at the high or premium end of the market, typically the most lucrative and most difficult-to-access segment.
* The entrepreneurs who developed these businesses all work (or plan to work) in partnership with subsistence farmers.
* The entrepreneurs provided the undertaking with an invaluable package of rare (for Rwanda) skills, including an understanding of the importance of quality control; a technical understanding of how to achieve quality control; management, organizational, and entrepreneurial capacity; technology awareness and knowledge; and access to markets or a clear strategy for establishing links to buyers. Individual subsistence farmers, who have been isolated from the global marketplace for generations, and even cooperatives made up of small-scale subsistence farmers cannot be expected to possess these skills and know-how. The entrepreneur is thus the critical ingredient for the success of any subsequent capacity-building program.
* The entrepreneurs started with a basic understanding of what the market requires in terms of quantity, quality, and technical specifications. They then reverse-engineered the production process to identify the required inputs and the capacity-building programs (training, supply chain linkages, logistics, and so forth) required to meet the market demand. They also trained farmers in modern production techniques and quality control mechanisms.
In effect, these entrepreneurs become STI capacity-building agents as well as employers of the STI capacity they help create. With this in mind, STI capacity-building programs should identify market-friendly, pro-business options for supporting private innovation. Some options include the following:
* Align technical and vocational courses to industry needs by preparing technical manuals in French and Kinyarwanda that codify the in-house expertise of existing value-added enterprises. The manuals could then guide technical and vocational schools in course design and delivery.
* Establish a training grant facility to support enterprise-based training projects for delivering technical and management courses to workers and out-growers. The modules would be designed by the enterprises, with assistance from training specialists.
* Establish an organic production and research association in collaboration with NUR's soil lab. The association would train enterprises in organic practices for pest control, erosion management, soil restoration, and soil fertility. In addition to the environmental benefits, organic certification would help firms producing coffee, flowers, fruits and vegetables, and silk command premium market prices for their products. Very little knowledge exists in Rwanda on the right methods of organic soil management. Setting up an organic production and research association with public and private support could help by collecting best-practice information, organizing worker training programs, inviting foreign experts, and developing local knowledge of world-class organic practices.
* Establish a technology advisory service to help firms search, acquire, and upgrade their technology.
PRODUCTION AND DIFFUSION OF APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY
"Appropriate technologies" are affordable and accessible technologies that can improve living conditions in villages and cities or boost family and business incomes. The development and diffusion of these technologies has been slow and fragmented in Rwanda. The technology diffusion agencies (the Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer [CITT] at KIST, the Institute for Scientific Research and Technology [IRST]) have limited capacity to identify appropriate technologies, modify them for use in Rwanda, and get them into the hands of entrepreneurs who can produce, market, and distribute them.
Capacity shortages and weaknesses exist at several critical points in the appropriate technology value chain:
* The agencies responsible for producing technologies (CITT, IRST) focus more on development (design, prototypes) of new technologies and less on transferring these technologies to small and medium-size enterprises.
* Design and prototyping takes place without feedback from clients or potential retailers. As a result, prototypes fail to get from workshops to end-users.
* The products produced in CITT and IRST are not always affordable or efficient.
* Low-cost technologies are frequently available outside Rwanda, but the technology agencies do not make an effort to search for and acquire them.
* The low purchasing power of most Rwandans suppresses the uptake of technologies.
To address these issues, the report recommends a variety of recommendations:
* Boost the technology transfer skills of CITT personnel by initiating specialized training courses in cost-benefit analysis, market value chains, project formulation, proposal writing, and business communication.
* Establish an international outreach program that would link CITT with global counterparts through staff exchanges, staff visits, and seminars.
* Establish a technology diffusion trust fund that would finance joint proposals by universities, private firms, research centers, and civil society organizations for technology sourcing, development, or distribution projects. Encourage the private sector and organizations other than CITT to participate in technology development and diffusion projects.
* Revise the system for evaluating research proposals so that the criteria include such factors as demonstrated demand for the research and the proposed transfer and dissemination strategy.
* Devise incentives to encourage CITT and IRST to focus on the transfer and distribution of appropriate technology as well as on prototyping and production. Create positive incentives (salary increases, bonuses, promotion, and learning opportunities) for good results and negative incentives for poor results.
* Design TVET courses in conjunction with technology development and diffusion agencies. The general shortage of skilled workers--installers, demonstrators, trainers, repairers, metal workers, spare-parts manufacturers--hampers the diffusion and adoption of appropriate technologies. Technical and vocation schools in Rwanda already offer a number of technology-related courses, but these courses are too theoretical and impart little hands-on knowledge. Designing TVET course in conjunction with technology development and diffusion agencies would help to address this problem.
DELIVERY OF CLEAN DRINKING WATER
Waterborne diseases, caused by a shortage of potable water, are a major source of illness in Rwanda. Cities and villages face shortages of clean drinking water. In rural areas, a majority of Rwandans drink and use unclean water from springs and swamps. Even in Kigali, the municipal water networks meet only about half of the demand for drinking water. Rainwater harvesting and other technologies in widespread use around the world can provide a relatively low-cost effective water supply for use in cooking and drinking water.
The techniques and technologies for delivering clean drinking water to rural villages are widely known but not widely used in Rwanda. Part of the problem is the shortage of technical and vocational skills needed to build and maintain water distribution networks. Engineering and technical capacity is also needed for exploring and drilling for underground water.
Capacity shortage exists at several levels in the water sector. Districts face a shortage of well-trained plumbers, mechanics, spring workers, engineers, and technical managers to run and maintain water networks. The central regulatory bodies (the RBS and the Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority [RURA]) need greater technical capacity to manage the quality of water and the quality of imported water equipment. The local utility company, Electrogaz, lacks the engineering capacity to assess and exploit underground water resources. It also has poor laboratory resources for water quality control.
To address these issues, the report recommends several policies and programs:
* Establish a three-year technical support program for vocational training centers that offers certificates and diplomas for water technicians. Most of these centers are nongovernmental. They lack skilled trainers, curriculum designers, evaluation resources, and the financial resources needed to maintain laboratories, expand class-size, and provide scholarships. A technical support program would help these schools deliver good-quality courses that focus on building practical skills for water technicians.
* Add courses on water management to the civil engineering course at KIST. KIST could help build hydrogeology expertise at Electrogaz that would allow the company to explore and exploit underground water. Electrogaz could partner with KIST to set up joint certificate programs that would impart practical water management skills to graduates, thus boosting the quality of the human resources available to all players in the water sector.
* Institute a hydrogeology course at KIST in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) water laboratory in South Africa to build capacity in underground water assessment.
* Add a rural water management course at NUR.
GEOSCIENCES AND GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
Most Rwandans live in villages that are not connected to the power grid. Building standard thermal power plants that use imported fuels and connecting remote villages to the central grid are neither feasible nor affordable options. Therefore, Rwanda will need to develop alternative, cost-effective energy sources, including, where appropriate, wind, solar, small-scale hydro, and geothermal.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Rwanda is potentially rich in untapped geothermal resources and could potentially even become an exporter of geothermal energy. Unfortunately, Rwanda currently does not have the capacity to exploit its geothermal resources, evaluate what resources it has, or participate with other countries in the joint World Bank-United Nations Environment Programme East Africa Rift Geothermal Energy Facility.
To address the problem, Rwanda needs to develop a cadre of geologists and geoscientists and build technical geosciences capacity in various government ministries and technical institutions, such as KIST and NUR. It also needs to begin evaluating and exploiting its existing geothermal resources, in a way that uses the first round of investments as training opportunities for technical, vocational, and engineering students. Doing so calls for both short- and long-term approaches to STI capacity building.
Capacity-building gaps exist at several levels. Rwanda faces a shortage of geoscientists, geothermal engineers, geologists, and drilling technicians. Government ministries need the technical and managerial capacity to plan and implement projects for resource evaluation and exploitation. NUR and KIST do not offer courses in earth sciences or geosciences. There is little or no capacity in applied geoscientific R&D. This capacity would be useful not only for exploring for geothermal energy sources but also for exploring for water and mineral resources.
To address these issues, the report recommends a variety of policies and programs:
* Send students from KIST and NUR to study geosciences at appropriate institutions in Africa, Europe, and the United States. This training is crucial to meet Rwanda's geothermal energy goals.
* Establish a three-year technical support program for the Ministry of Infrastructure. A team of geoscience experts would assist the ministry in planning and monitoring projects for geologic assessment, testing resources, and developing pilot plants. All these tasks must be completed before any electricity could be generated from geothermal resources. This expert group would also help KIST, NUR, and IRST develop their geosciences programs.
* Create on-the-job training programs for Rwandan students and engineers. Training could take place at geothermal programs in Ethiopia or Kenya or at programs expected to get under way shortly in Rwanda.
* Establish an applied geosciences research program in three crucial areas: geothermal resource testing for power generation, testing and drilling underground water resources for drinking, and assessing and mapping mineral resources.
CLIENT-FOCUSED AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND OUTREACH
The agricultural research and outreach system in Rwanda is fragmented and has limited capacity for meeting such priority needs as boosting productivity of food crops, creating value-addition through postharvest processing, and ensuring sustainable use of land resources for farming. As a result, the overall level of knowledge employed in the agriculture sector remains low, and agriculture is not living up to its potential as an engine of economic growth.
Capacity gaps exist at several levels. Agricultural research laboratories lack the capacity to identify research needs of individual farmers or agribusinesses. There is a lack of coordination and communication between groups involved in technology transfer and technology users (farmers, agro-entrepreneurs). State research and training institutions (ISAR, NUR, ISAE) need to improve the training and quality of their staff. The two national institutions of higher learning in agriculture--NUR and ISAE--have inadequate capacity to produce high-quality scientists and technicians. NUR and ISAE do not help farmers and agro-industry enterprises upgrade the skills of their workers.
To address these issues, the report recommends several policies and programs:
* Develop specialist postgraduate training and skills upgrading program for the staff of ISAE and the Faculty of Agriculture at NUR. In the long term, at least 80 percent of all academic staff should have Ph.D. degrees.
* Build or rehabilitate properly equipped specialist teaching and research laboratories at NUR and ISAE.
* Introduce short modular courses and in-service training for professionals and practitioners in public agencies devoted to agriculture research and training activities.
* Develop continuing education services at ISAE and NUR (short, field-based training courses to workers and managers in agroindustry enterprises).
* Institute a technical support program to help ISAR revise its research agenda to make it results oriented. The program would also help ISAR develop profit centers (such as commercial soil testing and tissue culture labs). The result would be increased cash flow for the laboratory and increased productivity for agro-industry enterprises.
* Establish a competitive grant fund to finance merit-based research proposals. Special emphasis would be placed on proposals that foster cooperation between public research institutes and the private sector and that emphasize technology diffusion of the research results.
* Establish a client-led National Agriculture Technology Advisory Board. The board would review research needs of clients, progress in technology transfer, and the granting of competitive funds to research proposals.
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|Title Annotation:||Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity in Rwanda: DEVELOPING PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO PRACTICAL PROBLEMS|
|Publication:||Building Science, Technology and Innovation Capacity in Rwanda|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2008|
|Next Article:||Chapter 1: overview and summary of results.|