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[LUSAKA] Rwanda has launched its first science research council, which will coordinate the country's research and promote the value of science to the public.

The Rwanda Science and Research Council (RSRC) was launched last month (24 January), and is based at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

It will boost links between locally based Rwandan scientists and those living abroad, and encourage policymakers and international organisations working in Rwanda to use the skills of local scientists and researchers in development projects.

According to a joint statement issued by the Rwanda Development Gateway and the RSRC, the new council will contribute towards achieving Rwanda's 'Vision 2020' — a national development plan to boost the economy and people's quality of life by 2020.

The council has elected six professionals from different disciplines to kick-start the organisation's work.

Mark Bagabe, director general of the Rwanda Institute of Agriculture and Science, will act as president. Other members are Alexander Lyambabaje of the National University of Rwanda, Chantal Rwakazina, senior vice-president of the Rwanda Association of University Women, and, Valens Mwumvaneza a local agricultural systems scientist.

Jean Nduwayezu, director general of the Institute of Research Science and Technology in Rwanda and David Himbara, head of the President's Strategy and Policy Unit, will be responsible for regional and international research links.

Bagabe emphasised the responsibilities of researchers in the country to find solutions to emerging issues in different sectors of the economy, and called on scientists to help achieve the RSRC's objectives, according to the New Times newspaper.

According to Romain Murenzi, minister for science, technology and scientific research, the RSRC will be funded by the government for its first few months of operation, but will then be looking to local and international donors for funding.

Murenzi confirmed that the RSRC is independent of the government.

In addition, he told SciDev.Net that his ministry is working with the UK Department for International Development to establish a council for science, technology, and innovation to regulate and fund research activities in the country.