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Rwanda launches Grand Challenges programme

Image: World Health Organization

Government allocates US$1 million to fund innovation projects to improve the wellbeing of Rwandans

Rwanda has launched an initiative to fund health innovations to solve critical challenges facing the country and Africa as a whole.

The Grand Challenges Rwanda programme was launched on 18-19 May in Kigali, an event that brought together scientists, researchers and innovators from across the country to showcase their work and share ideas.

The initiative falls under the Grand Challenges family of programmes, conceptualised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003. Other African countries that have Grand Challenges programmes include South Africa, Ethiopia, Botswana and Senegal.

Rwanda’s government has committed US$1 million dollars to the scheme, says Moses Alobo, programme manager for Grand Challenges Africa. He says Grand Challenges Africa is prepared to match the Rwandan government’s investment “based on calls for applications being rolled out”.  

The next phase of the project is to launch calls for proposals from Rwandan scientists and innovators through Rwanda’s National Research and Innovation Fund. One has already been issued, for technologies for climate resilient agriculture, food security and safety.

Speaking at the launch, Emile Bienvenu, director general of Rwanda’s food and drugs regulator Rwanda FDA, outlined the importance of innovation in healthcare and the role of the public and private sector.

“There is a great need for innovative solutions to address healthcare challenges in Rwanda, which can only be achieved through collaboration between the public and private sectors,” he said.

He added: “We are committed to working with our partners to support the development of new technologies that will improve the health and wellbeing of the Rwandan people.”

This article was changed on 25 May at 3pm GMT to attribute a statement to Moses Alobo. A previous version of the article quoted a communications officer for the Science for Africa Foundation.