Analysis of Rwanda’s National Innovation Policy: a 5-Year Strategic Plan

Building Strategy for a New National Commission of Science & Technology

How might we help Rwanda set a 5-year vision for the President’s new National Commission of Science and Technology?

Challenge

In a country as dynamic as Rwanda, no single policy institution “owns” science, technology, and innovation (STI).  Dozens of institutions conduct research, promote math and science education, and support innovators.  When you factor in players from industry, civil society, and donor institutions, the picture becomes even more complex.  How, then, should a new organization be structured to advise on and coordinate STI nationally? This was just the question facing the newly formed National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST), enacted by the Rwandan Cabinet in 2013.  The cross-ministerial Commission includes high levels representatives from industry, civil society, and academia and is housed within the Office of the President.  NCST decided to create a five-year strategic plan to set its vision and outline its priority programs and targets over the coming years.  Figuring out what to include, and how to structure the organization, proved challenging against the many options available.

Solution

Rwanda’s Office of the Prime Minister partnered with GKI to support NCST in elaborating this inaugural Five Year Strategic Plan. The strategic plan addresses how NCST can coordinate STI and focuses specifically on 3 key areas integral to reaching Rwanda’s development goals. First addressing challenges facing STI, GKI used a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to identify the external opportunities and risks that might affect STI-driven development in Rwanda’s future. Second, GKI brought in a design tool called Strategy Shaping to explore how actors across the innovation system could work together––and with NCST––to implement STI-related programs. Third, through in-person interviews with stakeholders and background reseach, GKI identified and mapped specific STI needs to sectors.

Results / Outcomes

  • Partnered with NCST on the design, articulation, and completion of its first-ever Implementation Plan
  • Developed the blueprint of NCST’s Strategic Plan such that it is attuned to opportunities and threats facing Rwanda
  • Coordinated Rwanda’s diverse actors working throughout the economy and established clear structures and roles for actors engaged in STI
  • Developed mechanisms for trend spotting to inform the Commission’s decision making going forward
Photo Credit: Sara Farley