Rwanda's commitment to STI capacity building starts at the very top. The president of Rwanda, His Excellency 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, 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 to the global economy." In his January 2007 address to the Eighth African Union Summit, he emphasized that building science and technology capacity is synonymous with 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) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): 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; (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
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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|