I think the article (by Alline Akintore, “Newton’s three laws of motion”) has some merit and the train of thought is definitely intriguing. However, there are some areas where I do not necessarily agree with the author. Firstly, some of our returning graduates misread the reality. How, for instance, would a post-graduate in economics end up doing filing in a ministry, and why do they settle for that? If they have the skills, I can see them starting their own consultancy firms which would not require much 'capital'. Which brings me to the second point; the government has funds for innovative projects, now the question would be do many people know about it?
Secondly, a geneticist working on their own in Rwanda now would not be a smart fit. For one, they require heavy capitalisation which no single financier is going to fund. But there are others who have benefited from the said funds.
Thirdly, with regard to the assertion on experience, whereas I agree with you in principle, the case you point out is akin to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If it is a mismatch, that is unfortunate. Instead, I would be looking to re-orient my skills set to what the market demands. I will say this for Rwanda, it is such a dynamic place, this is actually possible.
Lastly, I totally agree with you on the third point, and I have argued this case before. This, for instance, is why for ICT, a technology park would be perfectly suitable; the same needs to be done in the other critical sectors such as engineering, medicine etc.
With all due respect, Alline Akintore, government can't be considered as a game changer regarding this long-standing problem. I agree with 70 percent of what you highlighted, but the change we need, will come from those folks coming from abroad, no question about it. Those coming from studying abroad need to start a revolution in thinking.
You mentioned of a person who was formerly employed in USA by an American telecom company, who comes back to Rwanda but finds it hard to even pass a job interview because of a wide range of incompatibilities. Did the guy try to convince his/her former American employer to expand that American firm to Rwanda with the aim of becoming its regional representative? No. Those coming from abroad need to become more innovative in launching themselves without the government’s push.
They need to connect with the Rwandan Development Board long before they return home, then act as a link between RDB and the outside world. If you were employed in the USA and then you decide to return to Rwanda, you’ll be a good messenger between Rwandans and Americans, since you were already exposed to the American customer service and work ethic. I guarantee you that the American company or employer, in this example, would be much proactive in dealing with you, as opposed to directly dealing with RDB. I have noticed that those who studied abroad have so many opportunities on their fingertips but lack innovation.
Abdul Ntaganda, Kigali
Reactions to Alline Akintore’s article “Newton’s three laws of motion” (The New Times, Monday, January 14, 2013)