Gov’t pledges to strengthen regional INGSA research and training hub in Rwanda

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 1 May 2024 at 03:30

The Rwandan government has affirmed its support for the development of the regional Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) at the University of Rwanda. This initiative is part of efforts to boost the sharing of knowledge and best practices related to science advice for governments across the African continent.

Rwanda Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente made the commitment on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, during the official opening of the 5th edition of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice Conference at the Kigali Convention Centre.

“Our Government has accepted to support the establishment of a regional unit of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice currently hosted by the University of Rwanda,” Ngirente stated.

“It is expected that this unit will expand its operations to support the creation of functional networks at a regional level and serve as a hub for capacity development for Africa,” he added.

Rwanda Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente makes his remarks during the opening of the 5th edition of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice Conference at the Kigali Convention Centre.

The conference brings together policymakers, practitioners, national academies, scientific societies, and researchers to share experiences, build capacities, and develop theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government.

INGSA research and training hub was established in the University of Rwanda in 2022. The government’s support is expected to spur its development and expansion to greater heights.

In his speech, the prime minister emphasized that the government recognizes the significance of science, technology, and innovation in all sectors as crucial drivers for promoting social welfare and sustainable development in the country, in line with the vision to become a high-income nation by 2050.

“Aligned with our Vision 2050, science is expected to play a key role in Rwanda’s journey towards becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2035 and a high-income country by 2050, ensuring high standards of living for all Rwandans,” he stated.

Delegates follow proceedings at the 5th edition of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice Conference at the Kigali Convention Centre.

As part of efforts to build a knowledge-based economy, the Prime Minister asserted that the government has made huge investments at all levels of education, from primary and secondary education to tertiary institutions of learning.

“Our goal is to develop our human capital by providing comprehensive trainings in different fields of science. Through this approach, we prepare our workforce with the necessary skills to meet the demands of both private and public labor markets,” the prime minister noted.

“The Government of Rwanda has established the institutional arrangement that is needed to create an environment conducive for science development and innovation. This in turn translates into new technologies needed to support the economic growth of the country.”

He reiterated that science advice is critical in policy and decision-making efforts to address the world’s pressing challenges and called for collaborative efforts to increase the capability and resilience of global science advisory organizations and national systems such as INGSA.

“To achieve this, collaborative efforts are essential. We must foster synergy across all levels of governance, ensuring better coordination between our systems. By doing so, we pave the way for effective decision-making,” he concluded.

The 5th edition of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice Conference, themed ’The Transformation Imperative - Expanded Evidence for Inclusive Policies in Diverse Contexts,’ has attracted delegates from more than 50 countries.

It’s the first time that Africa is hosting the high-level conference, previously held in Brussels, Belgium; Tokyo, Japan; Montreal, Canada; and Auckland, New Zealand.

Rémi Quirion, the President of INGSA and Chief Scientist of Québec, termed the conference as unique moment for not just the African continent but the Global South.

"The first meetings in New Zealand, Montreal, Tokyo, and Brussels were more about talking with people from the North. What is unique here, for the first time in the Global South, for the first time in Africa, learning from African colleagues, learning from the experts in Rwanda in terms of science advice, that is one of the main objectives of this meeting. But also, we want to connect with our colleagues from the Global South. The African colleagues learning from the ones in Asia, and ones from Latin America, and so on," Quirion stated.

He also lauded Rwanda’s young generation as a great resource in national and economic development, insisting on the need to empower them.

"One of the strengths in Rwanda is its young generation, more so than what we see in North America and Europe. It’s a natural resource. It’s amazing. But we need to make sure that they have access to education. If they are interested in science advice, science diplomacy, or research, they can pursue these fields and have good jobs in academia or other industries," he said.

On his part, the Minister for Education, Gaspard Twagirayezu, said Rwanda is excited to host the conference and reiterated the need to maintain the network and strengthen the hub in Rwanda.

"The conference holds significance for us. As a government, we want to build an advanced economy by 2050, and this will happen based on the quality of our human capital, with science and technology at the base of everything that we do. This means we value science advice in government policy, and we are even more excited about how we are going to strengthen our hub here in Rwanda," the minister averred.