KIGALI - Capacity building in Africa should go beyond just imparting skills or attaining qualifications and instead focus on bringing positive change to society and enable the continent to achieve its development goals.
President Paul Kagame, made the remarks on Tuesday evening, at a dinner gala he hosted, to mark 20 years of the existence of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).
President Kagame said that the creation of ACBF, in 1991, has helped Africa to address acute capacity problems that the continent was faced with but warned that a lot more needs to be done if the continent is to meet the desired capacity levels.
He hailed the institution for a job well done, over the last 20 years, urging Africa to identify the capacity needs in line with the times, if the continent is to keep pace with the rest of the world.
“Arguably two decades after its birth, the mandate of the ACBF to help African nations develop their capacities is more important than ever,” Kagame said.
The President noted that the expectations of the citizens - to build institutions that are effective and efficient in delivering public service - are now higher than when ACBF was established.
“At this stage, perhaps we should pose and ask ourselves, what type of capacity and for what end,” he pondered, adding that the challenge today is to build capacity that goes beyond individuals.
“At its simplest, I believe capacity is the ability to get things done and build institutions and processes that deliver results and here I am talking more than just acquiring formal qualification or technical skills,” he said.
Kagame added that what is needed is the capacity to drive change on the ground in a way that transforms how things are done for the advancement of the development goals and the needs of the African people.
For that to happen, Africa needs to change attitude, Kagame observed, adding that without a results-driven mindset, the qualifications and skills would be of no value to the African people and Africa as a continent.
“Building institutions and capacity is not an end in itself but a means to political stability, economic growth and social inclusiveness and progress,” he said.
The President noted that the last 20 years of ACBF have shown that when the people and their leaders are determined to make a difference, change can occur even amidst insurmountable challenges.
Reflecting on the various African countries that have beaten the odds to register commendable progress, Rwanda inclusive, President Kagame said that the continent needs to build on its past efforts to take its development ambitions to the next level.
“Africa has a long way to go for it to harness the full potential of our people. We have spent far too much time, energy and resources on building the capacity but we continue to lack the commensurate results we ought to expect from this investment,” Kagame said.
President Kagame said that Rwanda put in place capacity building strategies in 1994 that have since yielded significant progress, attributing the success to the massive support from development partners and international bodies.
He added that since capacity is critical to the country’s development, the government has worked to address past weaknesses such as lack of ownership, broad and unclear objectives and the lack of focus on delivery of results, by launching the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).
“It is focused on Rwanda’s delivery priorities namely specific outcomes such as increasing agricultural productivity, access to electricity, investment in technology. We also have focused on private sector growth and development,” Kagame said.
The President added that the SCBI, has already received a boost from the World Bank and the United Nations, and the first phase will be completed in 4 years.
Earlier during the dinner, the Special Adviser to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Paatii Ofosu-Amaah spoke about the origins of ACBF, defining it as “something very special and important for Africa.”