Rwanda receives Rwf152bn boost for skills development

Local skills development and market relevance ambitions received a boost of a total of Rwf152 billion following the signing of two financing agreements with the European Union and the World Bank. The two financing agreements were signed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

With the European Union, the government signed a €10 million (about Rwf10.8 billion) grant to support private sector development and job creation. This grant is part of the EU’s €460 million package of support to Rwanda for the period going until the end of 2020. The grant and its programme is tailored to address the country’s needs to create employment opportunities for its youth with activities set to focus on digital economy and tourism hospitality.

The two sectors were identified as bearing potential for rapid, sustainable private sector growth and job creation. The programme will be implemented through two projects, Market Skills4Tourism and Tech Innovation/Incubation Hubs. Market Skills4Tourism will be implemented by Rwanda Polytechnic in collaboration with the Tourism Chamber from the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the Skills Office from Rwanda Development Board and Workforce Development Authority. The initiative will seek to improve skills for the youth in the Tourism and Hospitality sector in Rwanda. Tech Innovation/Incubation Hubs initiative will be implemented by Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) in collaboration with the ICT chamber from the Private sector federation (PSF).

The project will increase digital-based employment opportunities in high potential sectors through innovation/incubation hubs in four secondary cities in Rwanda, Rusizi, Rubavu, Nyagatare and Muhanga.

Nicola Bellomo, Head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda, said that the intervention is cognizant of the current state of the tourism and hospitality sectors following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is particularly more relevant to the current situation where the tourism and hospitality sector has been the most impacted by Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the current crisis has demonstrated that without a strong digital sector, it is difficult to adapt to the new world normal that is why this programme is so timely to fill the gaps within the digital ecosystem in Rwanda”, he said.

The government also signed a $150 million (approximately Rwf142 billion) financing agreement with the World Bank for financing agreement to support Rwanda’s efforts to expand opportunities for the acquisition of quality, market-relevant skills in selected economic sectors. Half the financing is a grant while the other is a concessional loan payable in 38 years, with a 6-year grace period.

The proposed Rwanda Priority Skills for Growth which the funds are earmarked for increasing access to technical and vocational education and training as well as higher education programmes that are responsive to both labour market needs and the social and economic development.

Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said that skills development and employment promotion are an essential part of the country’s development ambitions.

“Skills development and employment promotion are central to Rwanda´s National Strategy for Transformation. Equipping the workforce with the right skills for economic transformation is central to our long term development objectives, so this support will contribute to upskill Rwanda’s workforce for long-term economic transformation,” he said. The initiative is also expected to strengthen private sector capacity through targeted firm level support, improve access to markets for micro, small and large enterprises, increase employment mainstreaming in investment and bilateral projects.

Ruth Karimi Charo, World Bank Task Team Leader, for the project noted that targeted interventions for skills development will support efforts to establish a base for skills relevant in availing practical and technical skills.