RDB’s restructuring to boost rural businesses

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has announced that its latest round of restructuring is focused on boosting the capacity of the private sector in rural areas.
RDB's Clare Akamanzi (File Photo)
RDB's Clare Akamanzi (File Photo)

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has announced that its latest round of restructuring is focused on boosting the capacity of the private sector in rural areas.

“The new approach that we have entails a new partnership between the Private Sector Federation (PSF), district units and RDB whereby the Business Development Services (BDS) managed by the PSF will be given a new public and private sector-driven mandate in which government will now play a much bigger role than it did before”, Clare Akamanzi RDB Chief Operating Officer said.

Pipian Hakizabera , Head of Trade and Manufacturing at RDB, outlined how the new partnership with PSF and district authorities will operate.

“Thirty BDS units are scheduled to become operational under this new round0 of restructuring,” Hakizabera said.
“This will also bring in our own in-house networks known as the national tele-centres whose combined strengths is expected to deliver on the RDB mandate of sustainably, servicing the SME sector in all the districts,” he added.

While releasing the key aspects of its wide ranging restructuring agenda, RDB says that key beneficiaries of the reform are the small and medium enterprises operating in rural Rwanda whose operations are set to be boosted through the introduction of RDB services in every district unit, at the least.

These new services includes entrepreneurship development services currently housed at RDB headquarters which will now be decentralized along with other services like company registration.

“The idea is that these services currently available at our corporate headquarters should be availed to at least each district unit. The growth of our economy largely depends on the capacity of the small and medium enterprises and that is why RDB is now decentralizing these services,” Akamanzi added.

Akamanzi revealed that the restructuring also involved addressing the country’s human capital challenges in order to boost competitiveness within business.

“Three main programmes have been established including knowledge transfer partnership which seeks to link businesses with training. We have also developed a labour market information system which is a web driven system that tracks both the demand and supply situation within the national labour market”.

The new system is meant to assist and inform stakeholders including the government, enabling them to make informed assessments in order to determine what is required to stabilize the market situation.

The system has also been created to enable job seekers and employers to connect in real time.

RDB says that the most recent intervention within the labour market has been to build efforts geared towards boosting quality of the labour market through career development.

“A career development centre has been developed in close conjunction with Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).The idea is to boost the employability of Rwandans especially with the private sector in mind”, Akamanzi added.

Part of the restructuring also covered reforms aimed at making the economy more competitive. Consequently, RDB says that Rwanda’s doing business provisional report for 2011 states that reforms in seven out of ten indicators have so far been undertaken.

“This has continuously enabled the country to become a leading destination for investments,” John Gara, CEO of RDB stated. Key investments spearheaded by RDB under the restructuring period include projects in the sectors of education, construction, petroleum, real estate and property.

Among the notable projects being negotiated by RDB is an eco lodge in Volcanoes National Park, a Pharmaceutical manufacturing project and the entry of the Hilton Hotels, a leading global hospitality brand, into Rwanda.

The restructuring report says that in tourism Rwanda’s gains are expected to rise by 6.4 percent this year. Revenue totalling $187 million is anticipated, up from $175 million last year.

In line with Rwanda’s tourism diversification programmes, RDB says that a Canopy walk will be launched in Nyungwe National Park in the next few weeks.

The Canopy walk, upon being commissioned, is expected to be the first in East Africa and the third of its kind in Africa.

The report further says that 68 percent of fiber optics has been laid out to facilitate cheap and high speed internet connectivity and that project works are scheduled to be completed by December this year.

“50 public institutions are now connected and using the fiber optic, while over 300 people in Kigali are testing the Kigali Wireless Broadband (Wibro)”, Gara said.