India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme

By Chigozie N. Udensi*

India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme

Bilateral relationships between India and Rwanda have been cordial and have grown steadily over the years. In 1999,

Rwanda officially opened its Mission in New Delhi and appointed its first resident Ambassador in New Delhi in 2001. India’s engagement with Rwanda has been consultative, response-based and focused on developing Rwandan capacities and human capital. This engagement has promoted bilateral agreements and foreign direct investments amongst which is the India Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme (IRIGP).

The India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme (IRIGP) is a first of its’ kind initiative between India and Rwanda, launched in February 2017 during the state visit of the former Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari to Kigali. The programme strengthens the bilateral relationship purely based on science, technology and innovation. The programme aims to deliver socio-economic impact development by linking Rwandan industry and/or institutions with Indian technologies & innovations that are leading edge, validated and affordable.

According to the Director-General for National Industrial Research Development Agency (NIRDA), Dr Joseph Mungarulire, the programme is in line with developing Rwanda’s industrial sector based on the research and model of already successful industries in India. To achieve this goal, the implementation partners in India and Rwanda are the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India; in partnership with the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA), Government of the Republic of Rwanda.

While Indian entrepreneurs are being sent to Rwanda, Rwandan entrepreneurs are also being sent to India for training in advanced technology and innovation skills, whereby they will train in the same environment and the same industries or factories as their partners in India.

In the first year, IRIGP received an overwhelming response in both countries, with over 230 applications from Indian startups, and over 300 Expression of Interests (EOIs) from the Rwandan enterprises. After a thorough evaluation, Year 1 was concluded with 11 Indian enterprises match-made with 14 Rwandan enterprises – mostly business to business (B2B), but also included two- business-to-government (B2G) and one government-to-government (G2G) agreements. The technologies matched were in the sectors of Agriculture, Food Processing, Healthcare, IT & ICT, Leather and Renewable Energy.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) chief executive Clare Akamanzi acknowledges India’s importance to Rwanda, noting that “the two countries share a common ambition of growing fast, improving the livelihoods of the people, and investing in innovation in different sectors that are growing the economy.”

Focus Sectors (Technologies)  Agriculture – Agro processing  Animal Feed & Fodder: Hay & silage harvesting and conservation  Electronics and home appliances  Leather and leather products  Precious stones, gems and jewelry production  Insecticides and pesticides production  Essential oils and aromas extraction and distillation  Anti-drought and water conservation  Packaging  Waste management and processing  Soaps, cosmetics, detergents and disinfectants formulation and production  Glass tiles and sanitary ceramics  Fruits and vegetables preservation and processing  Cereals processing  Spices processing  Vaccine and antibiotics production  Dairy processing  Healthcare  Bamboo value addition and processing  Herbal drugs processing  Pigments and colors extraction and processing  Confectionary  Pulp and paper

Amongst many objectives, the India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme aims to: 1. Match Indian technologies and innovations with the needs assessment provided by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) Government of the Republic of Rwanda. 2. Generate skill and entrepreneurship development to create successful enterprises in Rwanda. 3. Focus on scaling innovations with a wider societal benefit and ensuring last mile delivery to the needy population in Rwanda. 4. Promote Indian and Rwandan (African) Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). 5. Further the UN Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, whilst generating widespread socio-economic impact development in India and Rwanda (Africa).

Through this programme, Indian innovators would be able to take their innovations to Rwanda for replication by their counterparts in Rwandan industry through Joint Ventures. The India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme provides several benefits to both sets of entrepreneurs through Capacity Building such as; 1. Hands-on training for the Rwandan counterparts by the Indian partners. 2. Monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment of development opportunities. 3. Tech expos & exhibitions for private businesses and government. 4. Industry mentorship for Rwandan business developers. 5. Legal and financial understanding and guidance. 6. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) landscaping.

More benefits to both Indian and Rwandan entrepreneurs will be created through networking such as; 1. Government-to-government (G2G), business-to-government (B2G) and business-to-business (B2B) relationships & mechanisms to ensure smooth matching and transfer of technologies to joint ventures. 2. Access to a pool of Indian innovations & enterprises for Rwanda to partner with. 3. One-to-one support from a dedicated partnership manager. Other benefits of this programme are provided through Support for Replication by; 1. Business acceleration meeting in Rwanda. 2. Facilitation support for implementing in Rwanda. 3. Technical assistance for implementing in Rwanda. 4. Advice, guidance and introductions to raise funds.

This programme which runs a term of two years with two cycles of 12 months each will deploy 20 demonstrated and validated Indian technologies and innovations over a period of two years. The joint projects/ ventures created with Rwandan partners will deliver at least 20 sustainable social enterprises that will stimulate economic impact development in Rwanda.

Bilateral relationships between India and Rwanda have increase trade between the two countries through the India Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme (IRIGP). They have opened markets to successful industries in India. And as Rwandan companies benefit from this partnership, they add jobs to Rwandan citizens.

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