16 November 2012

Rwanda: Local Think Tank Decries Lack of Economic Researchers

The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), a local think tank, has said there is a shortfall in local economic researchers which has made the country rely on international consultants and research.

Antonia Mutoro, the Executive Director IPAR says there was lack of a critical mass of researchers in Rwanda which in most cases makes organisations and institutions to bank on foreign researchers to conduct their research.

"Foreign consultants are good to use but we need to build our own human resource, from our own people," she said, during a workshop for economic research network forum for young economists held in Kigali on Thursday.

This, according to experts, leads to limited capacity in policy analysis and research which thus constrains the scope of evidence-based policy- making in the country.

The forum brought together young researchers and available seasoned researchers and analysts working in economic policy, poverty reduction and related fields across the world.

The three year forum is funded by the World Bank and implemented by IPAR in collaboration with Central Bank and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

To address this, Mutoro said IPAR is looking at attracting students from recognised universities in the country, the region and internationally to intern with them and look at doing collaborative research with her organisation.

"We want to try to have a network of local researchers at a level of young economists, even those ones who are not economists can be promising researchers," she added.

She noted that while there are young promising researchers and policy analysts in Rwanda, they are spread too thinly across various institutions such as government and universities among others.

Mutoro adds that without the means to communicate and collaborate with one another, this cadre of potential experts has not been utilised.

To harness these efforts, Mutoro says that researchers will be asked to register with IPAR as members of economic policy research network to come up with the number of researchers to be used by the think tank on research papers.

"And we think that with commitment, we are both going to achieve it," she said.

Dr. Frank Kigabo, Chief Economist at the Central Bank, is optimistic that the country would be able to have local researchers in the next two years.

But he adds "we need to increase the level of our researchers so that we can present our papers in regional and international networks, this is what we are trying to do".

He also observed that engaging young economists will help the country to close a big gap the country is facing in terms of economic researchers compared to its peers in the region.

Moreover, IPAR believes that engaging researchers in public policy debate, writing proposals for public policy research can attract funding as one way of increasing their capacity in research.

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