Rwanda’s president creates a new science ministry

Romain Murenzi will head the new Ministry for Science, Technology and Scientific Research Copyright: Rwandan Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research

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Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame has created a science ministry and placed it under his direct supervision in an effort to accelerate the integration of science and technology into all sectors of the economy.

Kagame announced the move on 18 March along with a broad cabinet reshuffle.

Current science minister Romain Murenzi will head the new Ministry for Science, Technology and Scientific Research, which has been split from the existing ministry for education and science, and placed under the direction of President’s Office.

Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya has been put in charge of the streamlined Ministry of Education.

Rwanda has made science and technology central to its development plans, and Kagame says the country can only develop if it uses technology to create wealth.

Local newspaper The New Times suggests that Kagame made the move to ensure that plans to turn the country into a regional information and communications technology hub stay on track.

Last month, Kagame criticised the former ministry for letting Rwanda’s premier science institution, the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) stray from its core mission by introducing courses unrelated to science and technology.

KIST is considered to be one of the biggest successes of Rwanda’s post-genocide government. Set up in 1997, it now trains more than 3,000 students (see A wired future for Rwanda).

Last year, Rwanda produced its first detailed science policy, which outlined plans to apply research to improve health, agriculture and the environment (see Rwanda says R&D is critical to national development).

The policy is in line with Rwanda’s ‘Vision 2020’, a national development plan that aims to boost Rwanda’s economy, and the quality of life of its citizens, by 2020.