By: Talent Ngandwe and Maryke Steffens


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Rwanda is to benefit from a new project to develop laws, regulations and institutional structures necessary for the growth of science, technology and innovation.

The project, funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), will work with the Rwandan Ministry for Science, Technology and Research to create an "enabling environment" to implement Rwanda's science, technology and innovation (STI) policy, which was approved by the Rwandan government in 2005.

The US$1.4 million project is in line with Rwanda's Vision 2020 plan and its proposed Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy. Both identify supporting STI as essential to the country's economic and social development, and vital in reducing poverty and boosting income levels through the creation of higher value jobs.

DFID's chief scientific advisor, Gordon Conway, told Rwandan newspaper The New Times that the project would help the country "realise development" and subsequently raise people's standards of living.

The project was announced at a Science, Technology and Innovation Partners meeting with the World Bank and the Rwandan government last month (19 June).

It has four objectives that it aims to achieve by 2008. The first is to forge links between research and educational bodies, the public and private sectors and civil society.

It also aims to draft a framework for the laws, regulations and institutions needed to implement STI policy. This includes creating a national commission for STI and an associated national research fund.

The project will help create new opportunities for institutions involved with STI to contribute to economic and social development.

Lastly, the project will help the government measure the benefits and impacts of its investment in STI.

The project will run alongside a World Bank project, which over the past year has assessed and made recommendations on how best to increase science and technology capacity in Rwanda.

Alfred Watkins, the World Bank's science and technology program coordinator, said the DFID project will create an environment that will enable these recommendations to be implemented.

Rwanda's Minister for Technology and Research, Romain Murenzi, told The New Times that the country could only achieve significant growth through technological advancement.