Rwanda has introduced a project that seeks to engage her nationals living and working in Europe to contribute to the country’s development.

The project, which targets professionals in the health and TVET sectors, is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MINAFFET), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Rwanda Polytechnic (RP) in collaboration with the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM).

According to a statement by MINAFFET, the initiative underscores the fact that “Rwanda considers its citizens living abroad as a relevant and integral constituency of the country and recognizes the vital role they play in its political and socio-economic development.”

“To this effect, it deploys necessary means to sensitize them to act as catalysts through skills and knowledge transfer; innovation; business, trade or investment,” the statement adds. 

The project intends to engage qualified Rwandan health professionals, residing in France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK who wish to provide health services into ten identified hospitals and transfer their skills, knowledge and technology to Rwanda’s health sector.

The 10 hospitals are Kabgayi District Hospital, Kibuye Referral hospital, Bushenge Provincial hospital, Murunda District Hospital, Gisenyi District Hospital, Ruhengeri Referral hospital, Butaro District hospital, Kibungo Referral hospital, Nyagatare district hospital, and Kibagabaga District hospital.

Among the specific areas that the potential health professionals are expected to boost include anaesthesiology, general surgery, mental health, cardiology, radiology, physiotherapy, biomedical engineering, gynaecology and obstetrics, orthopaedic, and dental surgery among others.

Concerning the TVET sector, eligible professionals are Rwandans residing in Belgium and Germany. Qualified professionals will give a training of trainers (ToT) to TVET trainers and students in identified priority courses of the Rwanda Polytechnic’s (RP) host institutions, namely in the eight Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges (IPRCs) across the country.

The IPRCs are in Kigali, Tumba, Ngoma, Karongi, Musanze, Huye,

Kitabi and Gishari.

The courses include electrical technology, civil engineering, electronics and telecommunication, renewable energy, information communication technology, hospitality management and agriculture engineering to mention but a few.

According to IOM, interested Rwandans living in the specified European countries can apply online on either health or TVET vacancies, where they can also find criteria that determine one’s eligibility.

Application are expected to close by 31 January 2021 and placement will follow until May 31, 2021 for TVET professionals, and August 31, 2021 for health professionals.

The serving period can range between two weeks to six months. The project will pay for selected professionals’ Covid-19 requirements such as testing and hotel fees for one night in Kigali upon arrival. 

The project will also offer transport from hotel to duty station (hospital or IPRC), accommodation on duty, transportation on duty, a fair allowance, travel business insurance and return flight tickets.

An opportunity to give back

According to the Minister of State in charge of ICT, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Rwandans living in the diaspora must take hold of the occasion availed to them.

She said: “I hope you take this opportunity and give back. And I believe that while you are here you will not only be giving, but you will also learn a thing or two.”

Different health professionals in Rwanda also explained that the skills and expertise of Rwandans living abroad are of essence when it comes to developing Rwanda’s health sector.

One of them is the Director General at Kibuye Hospital who said that “We will be pleased when they come to contribute to Rwanda’s health sector, by sharing their experience with Rwandan doctors, both specialists and generalists, and students who are eager to improve their skills.”

According to the Minister for Health, over the past two decades, Rwanda’s health sector has registered noticeable progress, where for instance, from 2010 to date, the country’s life expectancy increased from 55 years to 67.8 years. 

“Those significant health outcomes were achieved because of investment made by the government of Rwanda to strengthening the entire health system,” he noted.

According to IOM, there are 47,357 Rwandans living in the United Kingdom (UK), Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, a number that corresponds to 13.7 per cent of the global Rwandan migration stock.

So far, Belgium hosts most Rwandans abroad, followed by the United Kingdom, whereas the Netherlands and Germany host smaller numbers. 

“In all four countries, there is a high interest, capability and willingness to participate and integrate into the economic and socio-cultural development of Rwanda,” says IOM.

According to the Director of Rwandan Community Abroad in MINAFFET, there is a plan to tap into other continents for alike projects.

She said: “This is a pilot project, which is part of a broader plan of the government to continue engaging Rwandan community living abroad who have the ability and passion of contributing to the development of their country.”

“We are looking forward to engage many other Rwandan youth from other continents as well, thanks to the existing collaboration with our embassies and high commissions to reach out to the Rwandan community living abroad,” she added.