In Rwanda, The National Research and Innovation Fund (NRIF) has been officially launched and will be financed by government as a facility that will focus on the youth. The launch was conducted by the Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente. Top government officials, researchers and scholars took part in this event which coincided with the Rwanda National Research and Innovation Symposium.

“Rwanda will therefore keep supporting research and technology with particular emphasis to link our young innovators with the labour market,” he said.

The Fund will be managed by the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), a body mandated with integrating science, technology, innovation and research into national development strategies and plans. Rwanda is now among the few African countries that have such a fund after South Africa, Kenya and Egypt. Eugene Mutimura, The Minister for Education, stated that the Fund will help in promoting capacity building of the young talented Rwandans.

“We have already started identifying young Rwandans and others who might be beneficiaries of this Fund. It will, however, be open to other people in the region whose work can benefit the country,” he said.

A renowned South African Physicist and the co-chair of NCST, Neil Turok, said it was time that Africa goes back to the forefront of science and that with such a fund, it would accelerate the pace of scientific progress: “Fire was invented here, mathematics was invented here, and the steam engine was invented here. Africa has been a source of value in the world. It’s time for Africa to take leadership in science again,” he said.

The Fund aims to support ideas that align with the country’s priority areas of development, such as agriculture, healthcare, energy, environment, ICT and manufacturing, among others. The government also seeks to raise the number of researchers that the country has as well as train different Rwandans on how to develop efficient innovations that can contribute to the country’s transformation.

“We will be working with the academia to link them with industry researchers to work on different projects knowing exactly that this is what we want to have as an output. It will not be the usual process where university lecturers come and only publish papers that do not result in any tangible output,” Mbonye said.