On this Labor day of 1st May, Public sector capacity building secretariat joins other Rwandans to cerebrate the theme “Employment Promotion through supporting Prospective Entrepreneurs”. Across the public sector, PSCBS considers a capacitated human resource personnel as key drivers of entrepreneurship and better employment reforms plus better working conditions.
Rwanda has made remarkable progress in delivering on its development aspirations enshrined in the Vision 2020 and the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS). However, capacity challenges are still being felt in all sectors of the economy. As one of the strategic responses, the Government of Rwanda established the Public Sector Capacity Building Secretariat (PSCBS) in 2009 to coordinate capacity building of public institutions to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and transparency in public service delivery.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, the Executive Secretary of the Public Secretary Capacity Building Secretariat (PSCBS), Ms. Stella Ford Mugabo, elaborated on the way PSCBS under the wise leadership of the MINECOFIN, is making a tremendous move to contribute to the national development agenda by building capacities of priority areas in the public sector through the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).
TNT: Tell us briefly about SCBI and its added value to the national development agenda and employment promotion?
The Government of Rwanda has invested a lot of resources in capacity building in the public sector for the last 18 years so as to deliver on the targets set out in the MDGs; Vision 2020 and EDPRS; however there are still challenges in service delivery due to some capacity challenges.
It therefore called for departing from the traditional way of doing capacity building to a more strategic and focused approach. This approach is blended with optimisation and benchmarking of best practices internationally with a mix of home grown strategies that have worked well in our Rwanda’s internal situations and then selecting we came up with best suited our Rwandan context. This is one cardinal reason why Rwanda’s unique capacity building approach has become successful. Capacity building is a challenging and complex issue and therefore has continuous challenges. PSCBS acknowledges these challenges and therefore adapts its capacity building initiatives to be in line with national priorities while closely linked to EDPRS Pillars. What is new here is that the approach is Government led and closely linked to priorities; it is initiated and coordinated by Government through the relevant institutional arrangements and development partners only come to support a government dream; and finally it is carried out in a sustainable manner to ensure long term change and desired impact while considering value for money as key element.
The Government conceived the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI) in 2010, held various discussions with stakeholders in the public sector; concerned ministries as well as with development partners. It was in 2011, that the SCBI framework was adopted and an implementation strategy developed.
What is unique about the SCBI concept is that it is focussed on building capacity in priority areas that were defined by the Government and which offer significant prospects for economic growth, job creation, and revenue creation. Those priorities are increasing government revenue from mining, improving investment and deal conversion, increasing access and distribution of electricity and enhancing agricultural production.
SCBI approach underpins skills and knowledge transfer from the international experts to their local counterparts. The practice before has been the ‘fly-in’ ‘fly-out’ consultants whose work is normally output based in form of reports and studies making translation of their findings and recommendations a challenge for our public institutions.
Under SCBI, we hire international experts who come as coaches or mentors and we attach at least three local counterparts to the expert so that there can be practical hands-on training and coaching. It is not about an expert telling you what to do but also how to do it and working alongside the local counterpart. We call this ‘learning through delivery’ or ‘learning by doing’.
Government also contracted the African Governance Initiative (AGI), that has provided a team of Strategic Advisors who are placed in the Office of the President; Office of the Prime Minister; Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; PSCBS; and all the line Ministries benefiting from the SCBI support.
Through the SCBI approach we expect to create a critical mass of local experts in critical skill areas that shall be in tandem with employment promotion and steer entrepreneurship spirit especially among the youthful workforce.
TNT: How do we ensure sustainability of SCBI?
The final, critical, plank of the SCBI is sustainability. Like I said before most Technical Assistance in Rwanda and elsewhere is supplied by “fly-in - fly-out” consultants. While this approach might help to address a particular problem in the short term, there is often little evidence of transfer of skills to local counterparts, so opportunities for long term benefits are missed. The SCBI aims for “embedded coaching” where each internationally recruited expert works closely with local counterparts to develop their skills, following an approach that has worked effectively in Botswana and Singapore.
We are confident that SCBI will be a success! We are already replicating the SCBI framework in local government entities where we have placed coaches in districts which performed poorly during the recent evaluation of performance contracts and this shall spread to sectors. It is an ideal opportunity for our young graduates who score excellent grades and are rated as high flyers to secure employment as local counterparts to the international experts. With the new expertise gained by local counterparts, for example, in the mining sector, there is higher potential for employment.
The bedrock of the SCBI’S sustainability is the critical mass of local experts; once they gain the required skills there shall be an organized exit strategy for the international experts who usually have higher financial implications. The local counterparts who prove to have satisfactory performance shall be mainstreamed into the formal structures of the institutions they are attached to.
TNT: What are the challenges that you are facing in implementing the SCBI and how have you tackled them?
SCBI is still new. We have not even completed a full fiscal year in terms of implementation. However, some of the early challenges we are observing is getting the right international experts for rare areas like mining and even in the electricity sector. When we get the right person, they are not ready to take up the assignment for more than for example six months. We also had a challenge of getting local counterparts for the mining sector since we do not have an in-country institution that offers such a training course. So we have had to widen our advertisements and use networks to secure these rare experts.
We are so grateful to the Rwanda’s Development Partners who have embraced the initiative and have supported PSCBS in the pilot scheme. These include the World Bank, UNDP, Belgian Government and others who are already using the approach and the recently designed capacity building tools by PSCBS to design their future CB interventions.