The proposed amalgamation of seven of Rwanda’s premier development agencies to achieve efficiency is a very smart move. Parliament yesterday received the bill which, when enacted into law, will see the merging of Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), Rwanda Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (RIEPA) and Rwanda Information Technology. The other four are Human Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA), Centre for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises CAPMER), Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency (RCRSA) and the Privatisation Secretariat.
Bringing together the above agencies to form what will be called Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is an idea that was mooted by national development policy gurus, economic strategists and experts on investment policy.
Then having taken off time to study the development models of Singapore and Ireland, the world’s top two economies with the most efficient and pragmatic investment enablers, it was time to act.
For a dynamic establishment such as Kigali, it was always a matter of time before, for example, the duplication of effort apparently spent by ORTPN on one hand and RIEPA on the other in mobilising investment was done away with.
Take the hospitality industry case of tourism and hotels which you would think are exclusively under ORTPN. Now, can anyone imagine a foreign investment promotion campaign, which would automatically be conducted by RIEPA, not tackling the issues of tourism and hotels?
Then there is the RCRSA taking care of the small and medium businesses: what happens to the businesses that fall below the small or those that rank above medium?
There is no agency with a clear-cut mandate to look after them, and the pin-point attention these two categories miss can lead to avoidable poor performances.
Every good thing almost always comes with unwanted effects, and it is not yet very clear what, for instance, will be RDB’s impact on staffing. One sure thing though is that job losses will occur.
However, even this diminishes when weighed against the resources that will end up being freed for employing in other sectors. Most significantly, since the ultimate aim is to have a private sector-driven economy, it is only right that government agencies are kept to their minimum.