It has been observed that foreign engineers tend to head major infrastructure projects in Rwanda such as arenas, flyovers, among others. Local engineers and engineering firms in the construction sector end up being subcontractors. When contracting engineers, the procuring entity, Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), awards public procurement contracts through tenders, which means, local engineering firms get opportunities to bid and compete for the projects. So, what limits them from winning the tenders? Eng. Gentil Kangaho, Chairman of Institute of Engineers Rwanda (IER)’s Governing Council, agrees that most of the projects are led by foreign companies, but some local engineers have the ability to win such projects. “For instance,” he said, “Amahoro Stadium is being expanded by a foreign firm, but the supervisor, Gasabo 3D, is a local firm and the Project Manager and Senior Structuring Engineer is also Rwandan. We are making sure that local engineers are working with foreigners to ensure skills transfer.” Kangaho highlighted that some of the engineers lack hands-on-skills which he said is one of the biggest challenges. His point is backed by civil engineer, Yvette Uwanjye Munyaneza, who believes that most Rwandan engineers do not have enough experience to handle big projects since they have not been exposed to them, adding that they need deliberate training and development programs that can boost their professional competence. She also urged the government to compel more foreign companies to employ Rwandan engineers in the quest for knowledge transfer. An assessment championed by the Private Sector Federation with stakeholders including Rwanda Development Board’s Chief Skills Office in April 2022, revealed some existing skills gaps in construction and real estate sector that include green buildings and facilities management skills, design skills, technical building skills, innovation skills, construction project management skills, construction quality management skills as well as skills in finishing and completion of work. It also pointed out hard-to-fill positions in the sector that include construction project manager, construction engineers, architects, building control surveyor, environmental engineers, elevator installers and repairers as well as crane operators. According to Kangaho, IER has moved to also identify skills gaps whenever a project comes, where they reach out to higher learning institutions and propose if they can add those skills in their curriculum. He said that the body also provides continuous professional development training concerning available needs and skills gaps to its members. “We invite experts with those skills to train IER members who are qualified. We then give them marks and grades regarding their score,” he said. According to Alexandre Nzirorera, Director of Nziza Training Academy which offers training on technologies dedicated to helping engineers deliver projects excellently, the difference between foreign engineers who come to execute projects in Rwanda and local engineers is not education qualifications, but the level of technology they use. “You cannot say you will design BK Arena and make sure it is constructed in six months without using high level technology. You need it to analyse the feasibility of the project’s implementation,” he said. “Due to the low level of technology, you will see that in Rwanda and other developing countries, their engineers are not enabled to make technical studies for heavy infrastructures. And if they are not there, the government will look for someone who is capable of doing that with international standards. They will become the main contractor and locals will be subcontractors.” Nzirorera also noted that their academy, which is a technology partner of IER, is trying to equip local engineers with high-ending technology by periodically inviting world-class experts to train them. “We have local trainers that are certified, but we cannot ignore the fact that they still lack international experience that gives them confidence that the technical study they do here is the same as the one that is done in developed countries,” he explained. He also emphasised that skills gap is not the only issue that can make foreign companies lead major infrastructure projects in Rwanda, declaring that there is also a financial and international relation perspective where some of the projects are financed by foreign countries whose policies suggest they are the ones to head their implementation. However, he believes that in the next five years, Rwanda will have local engineers handling Rwanda-initiated and financed projects as many will have acquired the needed skills and competences. Fidèle Abimana, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure also highlighted that in most cases during construction of infrastructure projects, foreign companies are in partnership with local companies. “And I do believe that as you partner with a foreign firm, you are also getting experience,” he continued. “Besides, those subcontracted local companies are owned by Rwandan engineers. That’s one of the opportunities that will definitely lead them to also manage such kinds of projects independently.” Tackling the government’s contribution toward upskilling engineers in the construction sector, Abimana said that it offers capacity building opportunities via long-term training through Higher Education Council or short-term opportunities through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) once they arise. He noted that the government has also ensured that tenders are open through international competitive bidding which allows both international and local companies to compete. “As a regulatory framework, the side of the government has been done to make sure that tenders are accessible. It’s now up to the engineers to use those opportunities,” he said. “We would like to see them not only winning local tenders but also winning tenders outside of Rwanda. There is a role to be played by the government and we think it has done a lot, but we can’t ignore the one played by engineers in terms of improving their capacity, competences and skills.” What the ministry can do, he continued, is to make advocacy regarding skills gaps in the field and work with RDB so that capacity building interventions regarding those skills can be given a priority.