There is need for more investment in research to support the country’s skills development initiatives geared toward innovation and industrial growth, Andre Habimana, the head of operations at United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Rwanda, has said.
Habimana said this will strengthen the small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).
“Government and the private sector should work together to develop the human capacity through research and innovation, which are key to the country’s industrialisation agenda and equitable development,” Habimana pointed out.
He was speaking during celebrations to mark the Africa Industrialisation Day at STRAWTEC Rwanda head offices in the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo on Friday.
The annual event was held under the theme, “SMEs for poverty eradication and job-creation for women and youth”.
It brought together over 200 manufacturers, policy-makers and researchers.
Habimana said investing in market and skills development will strengthen Rwanda’s SME sector and ensure sustainable growth.
Robert Bayigamba, the chairman of the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers, said lack of kills and innovation is a major challenge affecting the sector’s potential to contribute fully to the country’s development.
He added that manufacturers often outsource skills from foreign countries thus affecting the sector’s profitability.
However, Trade and Industry minister Francois Kanimba, said government is working with higher institutions of learning to establish more structured dialogue on how the challenge can be addressed.
“It is imperative that we continue emphasizing skills development through the different entrepreneurship and TVET programmes, as well as under public private sector partnerships, Minister Kanimba said.
He added that Africa Industrialisation day should serve as a reflection on the progress made and what must be done to achieve an inclusive and sustainable industrialised economy.
“We must therefore ensure that we continue investing in research and skills development to boost the industrial sector,” Kanimba said while speaking at the event.
Government through the ministry of trade and industry has created an SME skills cluster to address the problem. Over 8,500 students have so far benefited from a national skills development programme.
The $34.5 million (about Rwf25 billion) programme under the Skills Development Fund (SDF) aims to narrow the skills gap in the country, and thereby reduce unemployment.
A recent study by Research Moguls Rwanda indicated that manufacturers are spending a lot of money sourcing right skills from other countries.