Not many researchers in the country are doing well, but with no coordination and enough capacity building platforms, they might not be able to contribute much to national development with their findings, experts have said.
Dr Charles Ruhara, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics, said local researchers lack exposure, which would offer the opportunity to meet international research experts who would improve their capacity in research.
Ruhara was speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the ongoing second Economic Policy Research Network Conference in Kigali.
The conference is running under the theme, “Promoting Economic Policy Research for Sustainable Development.”
“We have good and young economists in Rwanda, all we need is to have some incentives which include awareness and giving researchers some facilities such that research can be promoted—because research is so important that it provides recommendations which are used in decision-making,” Ruhara said.
“We (researchers) need networks and more workshops and support from the government to be able to make findings that would be more relevant and helpful.”
The conference, hosted by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda), with support from German Development Agency (GIZ), brought together researchers, academics and policymakers with focus on building the capacity of economists working in different sectors of the national economy.
Using econometric analysis, Ruhara made research finding on demand for health services in Rwanda, with emphasis on factors that promote or hinder the use of health services.
“The most potential variables included in the research were insurance, price and income; these are the main factors that determine the demand of health services in Rwanda,” he said.
“Insurance increases the chances of going to seek medical care once sick, but the price paid at the health facility was a negative factor,” Ruhara said in reference to his research paper.
Research and the economy
The conference is also seeks to chart ways of building the capacity of economists in different sectors of the nation, as well as finding ways through which local researchers could increase their presence in regional and international economic research forums.
National Bank of Rwanda chief economist Thomas Kigabo, who was the chief guest at the conference, said Rwanda’s economy is improving at a fast rate, hence the need to facilitate capacity building of researchers.
“Rwanda’s economy is becoming sophisticated, so researchers have to improve their capacity since their findings go hand-in-hand with the development of the economy. The linkage between policy and research is a capital for sustainable and evidence-based economic growth,” he said.
“The quality and quantity of Rwandan researchers is still low compared to developed countries and, through such a forum, we expect to have our researchers develop network and improve their capacities so that their contribution grow with economic development of the country.”
Eugenia Kayitesi, the executive director IPAR, said the few available economic researchers are not coordinated and this poses a challenge to the economic development of the country.
“To ensure continuity of the development of the economy, there is need for research and knowledge to respond to the issues on ground. We recommit to continue engaging policy and decision-makers in debates and dialogues through workshops and conferences like this to come up with solutions to address capacity issues in economic and policy analysis,” said Kayitesi.
Kayitesi reiterated the need to grow a network of researchers and have a framework in place to strengthen regional and international collaboration.