In 2003, Rwanda emerged from its first democratic elections with a new government entrusted with meeting the challenges of building an economy based on science, technology, and innovation (STI STI systolic time intervals. ) and making Rwanda a technology hub in Sub-Saharan Africa. Together with other science- and technology-oriented ministries, the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research was charged with implementing this vision--even if it meant breaking down bureaucratic barriers, doing the unusual, and formulating and implementing ambitious STI policies.
Rwanda's commitment to STI capacity building starts at the very top. The president of Rwanda, His Excellency HIS EXCELLENCY. A title given by the constitution of Massachusetts to the governor of that commonwealth. Const. part 2, c. 2, s. 1, art. 1. This title is customarily given to the governors of the other states, whether it be the official designation in their constitutions and laws or not. Paul Kagame, was the first to stress the importance of making science and technology an instrument for Rwanda's economic and social development. During his January 2004 address to the diplomatic corps, he outlined the following ambitious goal: "We will continue to invest in our people and strive to open up the frontiers of science Frontiers of Science was a popular illustrated comic strip created by Professor Stuart Butler of the School of Physics at the University of Sydney in collaboration with Robert Raymond, a documentary maker from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 1962. , technology, and research as we broaden our trade links with our neighboring countries and beyond."
President Kagame has not wavered from this initial vision. In his speech to the U.K. Royal Society in September 2006, he stated: "We in Africa must either begin to build our scientific and training capabilities or remain an impoverished appendage appendage /ap·pen·dage/ (ah-pen´dij) a subordinate portion of a structure, or an outgrowth, such as a tail.
epiploic appendages see under appendix . to the global economy." In his January 2007 address to the Eighth African Union African Union (AU), international organization established in 2002 by the nations of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU). The AU is the successor organization to the OAU, with greater powers to promote African economic, social, and political integration, Summit, he emphasized that building science and technology capacity is synonymous with synonymous with
adjective equivalent to, the same as, identical to, similar to, identified with, equal to, tantamount to, interchangeable with, one and the same as economic transformation. STI capacity building, he explained, "is about applying science and technology holistically--in all levels of education and training, in commercializing ideas, in developing business and quickening the pace of wealth-creation and employment-generation, in enabling government to provide better services, and indeed in providing basic tools to society at large for self- and collective betterment."
Rwanda has sought to implement this vision in three stages. The first stage entailed developing a national STI policy. With significant support from development partners, this stage was implemented as follows:
* September 2004, with support of the World Bank: Appointment of a science and technology adviser in the office of the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research
* November 2004, with support of the Department for International Development (DFID DFID Department For International Development (UK) ) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO UNESCO: see United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
in full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ): Preparation of a concept paper entitled "Preparatory National Integrated Innovation Framework for Rwanda"
* December 2004-April 2005: Preparation of a first draft of the national STI policy, followed by extensive consultation with key stakeholders
* May 2005, with support of DFID: Review of the draft documents at the National Science and Technology Conference in Butare, opened by President Kagame and, on behalf of Rwanda's development partners, Jeremy Macadie, the British Ambassador to Rwanda
* July 2005: Approval of the national STI policy by the Rwandan cabinet. The policy was subsequently published, with the support of UNESCO and the United Nations University.
The goals of Rwanda's national STI policy are to (a) promote sustained growth of GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. ; (b) improve the quality of life and raise the standards of living of the citizens of Rwanda; (c) improve skills and knowledge among the population; (d) maintain the viability of and enhance opportunities for growth in rural areas; and (e) integrate technical education with commerce, industry, and the private sector. To achieve these goals, policies are needed that promote knowledge acquisition, knowledge creation, knowledge transfer, and a culture of innovation.
Approving and publishing the national STI policy was only the first step in realizing President Kagame's vision of transforming Rwanda into a knowledge society. The crucial second step was converting this policy into detailed, specific programs. This is where the World Bank has played a crucial role. The World Bank Science and Technology Program Unit, working hand in hand with the Ministry for Science, Technology and Scientific Research, prepared a series of Needs Assessment and Action Plans (NAAPs) for STI capacity building. These studies provided the roadmap for integrating STI capacity building into Rwanda's Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy. The NAAPs are based on the premise that by embarking on a concerted effort to build STI capacity, Rwanda will greatly enhance its prospects of achieving the growth, poverty reduction, wealth creation, and export diversification objectives that form part of the Government's vision. I am delighted to be associated with the publication of this volume, which summarizes the results of the second phase of Rwanda's STI capacity-building effort.
Phase 3 will entail implementing these recommendations, through a partnership between the Government of Rwanda on the one hand and the World Bank and many other development partners on the other. As we enter this third phase, I am confident that, working together, we will succeed in meeting the goal of a prosperous Rwanda, transformed into a technology-led, knowledge-based economy.
Professor Romain Murenzi
Minister in the President's Office of Science,
Technology and Scientific Research