How might we assess whether Rwanda’s 2005 Innovation Policy propelled the country toward middle-income status?

Policy Review: Analysis of Rwanda’s National Innovation Policy


Emerging from a painful period in the country’s history, the Government of Rwanda published its first Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy in 2005.  The country’s leadership envisioned Rwanda as a knowledge economy, a country distinct across Africa in its ability to use STI to drive economic and social progress.  The Government invested heavily in building STI capacity and infrastructure (e.g., research laboratories, university programs, internet connectivity, etc.) as a way to achieve these ambitious goals.  Impressive gains were achieved, yet policy makers found themselves asking:  to what extent did the STI Policy help drive that change?  And—perhaps more importantly—how well does the STI Policy align with the country’s economic and social goals almost a decade later?  The Government called for a formal review of the STI Policy in 2013 to address some of these unanswered questions.


The Ministry of Education, with support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), enlisted GKI as a strategic partner in its review of the 2005 STI Policy.  GKI designed a participatory approach for the review, relying heavily on the input of key stakeholders in Rwanda’s innovation system.  Beyond engaging key Rwandan researchers, businesspeople, and policymakers, GKI included the voices of those rarely consulted in STI-based decision-making—construction workers, cooks, small business owners—to ensure the review reflected ground-level perspectives that such processes often miss.

Combining traditional research methods with more collaborative design session, GKI sourced thousands of insights from 300 stakeholders throughout its 5-month review process.  The result: a comprehensive policy review that reflects the full scope of STI achievements, needs, and future opportunities in Rwanda.  Recognizing the strength of both the process and product, the Government and UNECA invited GKI to lead a parallel process of strategy articulation aimed at building the country’s first ever Strategy Implementation Plan for the National Commission of Science and Technology, led by Rwanda’s Prime Minister.

Results / Outcomes

  • Engaged over 300 stakeholders in the policy review process
  • Identified 11 drivers of change within the Rwandan innovation system
  • Presented 9 recommendations, including the call for an updated STI Policy and the creation of an actionable Implementation Strategy
  • Constructed an STI Indicator Dashboard with 12 indicators to benchmark progress