Rwanda Officially Launches the Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund


Kigali, 05 April 2012 (ECA) – Today, the Government of Rwanda officially launched the Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund (RIEF) to fund research and development in innovative market oriented processes and products in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and One UN Rwanda. 


The RIEF launching ceremony was attended by representatives of government, diplomatic corps, UN agencies, international organizations, private sector, academia and research institutions. Mr. Vincent Biruta, Rwandan Minister of Education told participants that the decision to create the Fund came from a strong belief that investing in research and innovation for development is a national imperative”Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund provides the opportunity for researchers, entrepreneurs and business people to work together in order to fully contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development”, said the Minister.

In his address, Mr. Antonio Pedro, Director of Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA/ECA) emphasized that RIEF will support both enterprising individuals and research and development (R&D) Centres. “The RIEF will bring individual’s and organization’s outputs to the market. The fund is intended to fund joint projects between researchers and entrepreneurs in order to produce locally applicable innovative technologies to spur socio-economic transformation of the country” he said.

“Supporting innovators, protecting their knowledge and commercializing their innovations is the essence of the RIEF”, affirmed Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ICT, Science & Technology Division, UNECA at the ceremony were she delivered key remarks on the Vision for African Innovation Endowment Fund, a framework she was happy to note, was used by Rwanda to create the RIEF.  Ms Mensah stated African Innovation Endowment Fund and alike motivate inventors and innovators and spur on the development of sustainable industries and enterprises for the Africa.

The RIEF funding priorities will initially focus on the three priority areas, namely agriculture, manufacturing and ICT. “There is no doubt that innovation will bring about the breakthroughs to support our industries to become more dynamic and support a competitive economy” said Faustin Mbundu, Chair of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation. 

The establishment of the Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund (RIEF) was one of the recommendations at a January 2010 national workshop, convened by the Government of Rwanda and supported by the One UN with the theme: Unlocking the Potential of Science, Technology and Innovation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Rwanda. Following this workshop the One UN formally agreed to support the establishment of the RIEF with the lead UN Agency being UNECA supported by UNESCO and UNDP.

Rwanda Ministry of Education subsequently carried consultations to examine how science and technology can help Rwanda develop.  There was an agreement that the promotion of a system of innovation in Rwanda would generate knowledge, encourage basic and applied research and international cooperation in addressing local needs and contributing to solving socio-economic problems to the national context.

Prospective applicants to the fund are encouraged to apply online through the Ministry of Education ( The RIEF will be accessed via a 2-stage application process based clearly set out eligibility criteria.
For media inquiries, please contact:

  • Mr. Didier Habimana, Communication Office; Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); Tel (Office): +250 252 586548; Extension: 21611|Cell:250-788493377| Email:
  • Mrs. Evangelina Soni Kanamugire, Communications Consultant; Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); Tel (Office): +250 252 586548 Ext: 21611; Tel (Mobile): +250 (0)788 830 629; Email:


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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa