Centre of Government and Delivery

Building Capacity in Rwanda Through SCBI

Posted on: 12th May 2014
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AGI’s latest paper ‘Two steps at a time’ reflects on lessons from AGI’s work on capacity building in Rwanda. It reflects on lessons learned from the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI), a pionerring partnership between AGI and the Rwandan government, which aims to build government capacity to deliver in the future while also implementing changes that will improve the lives of Rwandans today. 

There are four central features of SCBI that emerged from a combination of experience from Rwanda, international development capacity building and AGI’s approach to capacity development:

1. It is priority-driven in that it is structured around delivery of a small number of specific priorities (from the government’s intense focus on achieving tangible results and AGI’s support for emphasizing just a handful of objectives)

2. It is government owned in a fundamental way: the priorities were chosen by the government’s political leadership (from the government’s firm commitment to shaping its own development path)

3. It links the core executive (the Presidency, Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Finance) to ministries responsible for implementation (from Rwanda’s own learning about the importance of cross-government coordination as well as from international best practice)

4. It invests in the long-term potential of young talent by pairing Rwandan counterparts with embedded consultants (from Rwanda’s own negative experience with fly-in, fly-out consultants and from international best practice)

The paper has received a write up from Harvard Professor Matt Andrews who identified the need to ‘cultivate grit, not overlook it’ and from Leni Wild of the Overseas Development Institute who was left looking for more ‘flesh on the bones’ when it comes to making flexible reforms a reality. In addition AGI’s Director of Strategy and Development Andy Ratcliffe has written a piece for the Skoll World Forum explaining why Rwanda’s capacity building success might hold lessons for governments around the world.


The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.