Past governments continued to rely on foreign technical assistance that was both costly, largely indifferent to domestic long term needs and failed to build local capacities. Although great progress has been made on this front, it still represents a significant hindrance to effective governance.
Rwanda’s Vision 2020 Strategy
The genocide in 1994 had a profound impact on Rwanda’s human capital. Many talented, educated people lost their lives or were forced to flee the country and a generation of young people suffered significant educational gaps. The impact of this was still evident 15 years later as government struggled to find the technical expertise necessary to realise national development goals.
Capacity building initiatives had failed to government’s expectations and dependency on expensive foreign expertise meant critical decisions on national development were not being led by citizens.
In 2010, conversations between the Government of Rwanda and AGI led to the set up of the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI). The SCBI paired Rwandan public servants with technical experts in priority areas for an extended period and with monitoring from the National Capacity Building Secretariat, a skills transfer was facilitated to develop the much needed pipeline of talent.
SCBI was designed to address some of the reasons why past capacity building activities had not delivered. In contrast to these, SCBI is:
Priority driven – it is structured around delivery of a small number of specific priorities
Government owned – the priorities were chosen by the government’s political leadership
Long-term investment focused – young Rwandan counterparts are paired with embedded expert coaches for an extended period
Focused on delivery of relevant work in a real context –expert coaches and counterparts work closely together to deliver targets on the ground.
The government identified four priority sectors for the pilot, which would produce multiplier effects - Energy, Agriculture, Investment, and Mining.
The SCBI approach was piloted from 2011 – 2015. Successes have included increases to farmer incomes, a more tightly regulated mining sector and an increase in the number of Rwandans with access to electricity.
The Government of Rwanda, in partnership with AGI, is currently building on the success of the pilot and applying lessons learnt in the development of SCBI Phase 2.
If you are interested in finding our more about the challenges of capacity building and the unique approach of the SCBI programme, read our paper Two steps at a time.
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.