English is increasingly being considered as a vital component in doing business and adjustments are being made to learn the language to increase efficiency.
A mini survey carried out by The New Times has found that the business community considers that for their businesses to thrive, knowledge of English is necessary.
“Many of the taxi men and motorcycle taxi operators came to us saying that English is increasingly becoming a necessity,” disclosed Emmanuel Mudacyahwa, president of Gasabo transporters’ cooperative (GMTSC) in Remera.
Mudacyahwa explained that currently, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is helping them put up a school to teach English in Kicukiro.
“They will be taking lessons in shifts,” he revealed.
Despite their need for English, some of the transporters said that they are constrained by time.
“I start work at 6 am and finish at 8 pm and I can’t get time to learn English. As I can only speak Kinyarwanda, I usually lose business when I meet someone who speaks another language,” said Apollinaire Ngendahimana, a motorcycle taxi rider.
At the start of this year, the government directed that English be emphasised as the language of instruction in schools.
Rigorous efforts are still ongoing to change the system with the government providing most public school teachers with English classes.
However, the thirst for English has spread like wildfire in the business community as businessmen learn it along side children.
Damien Nkurunzinza, the principal of Kigali City School in Kabeza, initially had a nursery and classes to teach children English but later incorporated adults by starting an evening session for them.
He said that some of them are businessmen who express the need to learn the language but are difficult to teach because of dedication to their businesses.
“We can’t do much on attendance it is not like children. They have businesses to attend to. But they want to improve their business in terms of communication,” he said.
Vincent Twagirayezu, proprietor of an electronics shop in Kigali City said that most of his clients are English speaking and he struggles to attend to them.
“There are few clients who speak French but more speak English and Swahili. Many times we try to understand what the client wants,” he said.
But he said that despite his poor knowledge of English it is vital since he buys merchandise from across the border in Anglophone systems and stressed that he wouldn’t have an employee who doesn’t speak English.
For Jack Harerimana, a stage master of Horizon Express, a transport company in Kigali City, English is what he uses to attend to clients.
“This time is not for only Kinyarwanda. Before I had nothing to reply but today I try to reply them,” said Harerimana who has been attending 2hours of English classes after breaking off for work in Kimisagara, a City suburb.