A new continental report has ranked Rwanda third on the continent as far as science, technology and innovation (STI) capacity is concerned.
The Africa Capacity Report is the work of the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a continental organisation established by African Governments and their development partners to help build sustainable human and institutional capacity for good governance and development management.
According to the Africa Capacity Index, the report’s primary index, Rwanda is the third placed with 68.2 index value, behind Morocco (1st), and Tanzania (2nd) with 71.6 and 68.8 index values, respectively.
The Africa Capacity Index is a composite index computed from four sub-indices, each of which is an aggregated measure calculated on a quantitative and qualitative assessment of components.
The sub-indices cover policy environment; processes for implementation; development results at country level; and capacity development outcomes.
For Africa Capacity Index 2017, the term science, technology and innovation encompassed all systematic activities that are closely concerned with the generation, advancement, dissemination, and application of scientific and technical knowledge in all fields of science and technology, the natural sciences, engineering, medical, and agricultural sciences, and the social sciences and humanities.
In particular, the report examined the status of Science Technology and Innovation, delving into initiatives, challenges, and capacity gaps for African countries, regional economic communities, the African Union (AU), and nonstate actors to pursue science, technology and innovation -driven economic activities.
The Rwandan case study was done by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR- Rwanda). Speaking at the launch of the report in Kigali, Eugenia Kayitesi, the Executive Director of IPAR Rwanda, said that the results of the report were good for Rwanda and show that the country was in good position to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Science, technology and innovation is an enabling factor in the implementation of a number of development programmes like in the health sector, water, education, talk of anything. It is going to be very enabling to the implementation of SDGs,” she said.
Gordon Kalema, the Director General of e-Government in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, in a press interview, highlighted some of the initiatives in place that show a good future of science, technology and innovation in the country.
Among these he cited the Rwanda Innovation Fund for Science and Technology that has a budget of over 100 million dollars given to young innovators supposed to do research and development, specifically in the field of ICT.
He also cited the different centres of excellence that help in building capacity in the country like the African Institute of Mathematical Science, the centre of excellence in the Internet of Things (IOT), the Carnegie Mellon University, among others.
He added that the major focus of the government as far as science is concerned is to transform lives of people through science.
“Research informs policies for government and policies are tailored to the needs of people. So, science is not effective if the transformation of people is not witnessed at the grass root level. The major focus is on transformation of people’s lives through science and technology,” he said.
Of the 44 countries surveyed, 20.5 percent are in the High bracket (9 countries including Rwanda), and 4.5 percent are in the Low bracket (two countries Swaziland and Central African Republic), and 75 percent fall within the Medium bracket (all other East African countries besides Tanzania and Rwanda fall in this category.