8th February 2011


Honourable Governors and Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation;
Heads of International and Regional Institutions;
Honourable Ministers;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you all for joining us here in Kigali to deliberate on the important subject of capacity building and development. I am sure that your time here will be productive and enable us to chart the way forward with regards to empowering our institutions and citizens.

Tonight, we are here to celebrate the African Capacity Building Foundation’s 20th anniversary – a key institution on our continent. From humble beginnings, the ACBF has now come of age. Twenty years ago the ACBF was established to respond to Africa’s acute capacity needs and development ambitions by developing indigenous human capital and institutions.

Arguably, two decades after its birth, the mandate of the ACBF to help African nations develop their capacities is more important than ever, and the expectation of our citizens to build institutions that are effective and efficient in delivering public services are now higher than back then.

But at this stage, perhaps we should pause and ask: “what type of capacity and for what end?” At its simplest, I believe capacity is the ability to get things done and build institutions and processes that deliver results.

And here I am talking about more than just acquiring formal qualification or technical skills, but the capacity to drive change on the ground in a way that transforms how we do things for the advancement of our development goals and the needs of our people.

This requires an attitude shift – because even if we had all the skills and organisations required – without a results driven mindset, we will achieve little for ourselves or our continent. Building institutions and capacities is not an end in itself but the means to political stability, economic growth and social inclusiveness and progress.

Indeed, the experience of the past twenty years has shown that when leaders and citizens act on this mindset, we can achieve change even against seemingly insurmountable odds.

That has been the experience of a number of African countries, including Rwanda.

But now is the time to build on these efforts and take it to the next level because, as I think you will all agree, Africa still has a long way to go for it to harness the full potential of our people.

We have spent far too much time, energy and resources on building the capacity, but we continue to lack the commensurate results we ought to expect from this investment.

Since 1994 there have been a number of capacity building projects which have contributed significantly to Rwanda’s progress.

And I would like to acknowledge the support we have received over the years –directly from country partners as well as multilateral organisations like the Economic Commission for Africa, UNDP, the World Bank, the EU, and the African Development Bank, among others. It is with this support that a lot has been achieved although we still have some work to do.

Since capacity is so critical to our development we have tried to address these past weaknesses, namely: lack of ownership, broad and unclear objectives, and not focusing on delivery of results.

Given this, to address our present needs and meet our future potential, we have recently launched the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).

First, it is focused on Rwanda’s delivery priorities, namely specific outcomes such as increasing agricultural productivity, access to electricity, investment in technology and private sector growth, rather than broad sector reform.

It is demand driven as we hope to secure targeted support to meet our needs, rather than merely accepting whatever is offered.

Second, it combines both capacity building and delivery. The intention is to embed external support to drive results while working side by side with local Rwandans to maximise skill transfer and ensure results continue to be delivered on an ongoing basis, even when the support subsides.

We plan to begin implementing the SCBI by the middle of this year, and I am pleased that the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank and the United Nations have joined us to kick-start this work immediately.

In four years time, when the first phase is complete, I not only expect these priorities to be delivered, but for them to have had a multiplier effect on Rwanda – achieving the MDGs and our broader development vision.

Let me conclude by once again saying to the ACBF:  happy twentieth anniversary and congratulations on a job well done.

And as we celebrate this milestone, I urge you all to continue driving an attitude and culture change, deep within our continent that delivers transformation and the development results we all aspire for ourselves and future generations.

Thank you once again for coming to celebrate this milestone in Rwanda – I hope you all have an enjoyable evening and a pleasant stay in our capital, Kigali.