On June 3, 2016 the UK in Rwanda will host the annual Queen’s Birthday Party (QBP). This year we will celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday and the life of William Shakespeare, 400 years since his passing. Shakespeare was a renowned British playwright and poet whose works continue to inspire, entertain and delight readers and theatre-goers across the globe. The theme of this year’s QBP will be “Celebrating UK and Rwandan Culture”. We will collaborate with the National Institute of Museums of Rwanda to present a striking exhibition of cultural artefacts. Transpoesis, a Rwandan theatre company, will perform works inspired by Shakespeare in English and Kinyarwanda.
The UK in Rwanda is a team of three institutions: The British Council (BC), the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) make up the British High Commission. We support Rwanda’s development into a democratic, prosperous country, with good governance and respect for human rights, playing a responsible role in the region’s politics including in support of peacekeeping. We encourage UK trade and investment, supporting Rwanda’s own goal of becoming a middle income country.
You may be surprised to learn that the majority of staff working for the UK in Rwanda is Rwandan. We achieve our objectives by working in an open, collaborative environment encouraging best ideas from colleagues regardless of hierarchy. This has helped us to succeed in achieving most of our goals including delivering the best services to our clients both in Rwanda and the UK. Each element of the UK in Rwanda team has different, complementary objectives.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities and oversees a range of activities in Rwanda. They will take a leading role at the QBP with the Shakespeare “Play Your Part” campaign – inviting guests to film themselves reading their favourite line from Shakespeare. You can follow the campaign on Twitter using #PlayYourPart.
The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, deliver the Global Goals, and tackle global challenges in line with the Government’s UK Aid Strategy. In Rwanda, DFID is leading the UK’s work to support social and economic transformation and to deliver on the Government of Rwanda vision to complete the transformation of Rwanda from a poor, post-conflict nation to a thriving, middle income, regional trade and investment hub.
To deliver on this, DFID works closely with the Government of Rwanda and aligns its work with Rwanda’s development vision as set out in Vision 2020 and EDPRS2. We also work with a variety of other partners, including civil society organisations, private sector actors and development partners. We put value for money, transparency and openness at the heart of what we do to ensure that our resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Over the next five years, DFID will work with the Government and people of Rwanda to deliver on four key strategic objectives:
- to increase the effectiveness of the state and its accountability to all citizens and support the transition to a more inclusive open society
- to support Rwanda to build resilience to climate change and climate variability and to improve access to low carbon energy;
- to support the structural transformation of Rwanda’s economy, creating decent jobs for all, including for women, youth and the poorest;
- to build the capabilities, opportunities and resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable, including empowering women and girls, to escape poverty and take control of their lives.
We will increasingly ensure that our programme targets the most vulnerable, including women and girls, people with disabilities, and older people.
Since 2011, DFID has helped 3.8 million Rwandans to improve their rights to land and property, 1.8 million people to have a choice and control of their own development and 479,000 to escape extreme poverty through cash transfers. In 2014, DFID’s support to the education sector supported 354,000 children to attend primary school. In addition to these results, UK aid funding has supported inclusive access to financial services, supported people to cope with climate change and to build resilience, and has provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to Burundian refugees in Rwanda.
The UK aid logo is used widely where we work, on items such as school books and emergency food supplies, to publicly acknowledge development programmes funded by the UK taxpayer.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leads the UK diplomatic effort in Rwanda. The FCO in Kigali is composed of four main sections headed by the High Commissioner who is also the chief UK diplomat in Rwanda; the Political, Commercial, Consular and Corporate services sections. Together, the FCO works to strengthen bilateral relationship between the UK and Rwanda in all sectors.
The political section leads on political engagement with the Government of Rwanda by discussing issues across the board, informing them as UK policy evolves and facilitating UK government departments (e.g. creating links between the RNP and our National Crime Agency to fight crime together). We are proud to say that the FCO leads on public diplomacy. This means communicating widely about our activities (e.g. via social and traditional media) and engaging in a conversation with a wide range of Rwandans.
The BHC’s manages funding to a variety of projects to improve the lives of local communities. We also oversee a range of programmes like the Chevening Scholarships, the Queen’s Young Leaders award and Commonwealth Youth Leadership scheme designed to increase person-to- person exchanges and reinforce youth leadership.
Another area we are proud of is our young but ever progressive Commercial Section. This section builds close relationships with companies and businesspeople. It supports UK companies already operating in Rwanda through lobbying and advocacy and encourages new UK companies to do business here. It also supports Lord Popat, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda.
The FCO plays a key role for British nationals living, working or travelling in Rwanda. We provide advice and support to ensure that they have a smooth trip. Our Consular section monitors developments related to the safety and security and provides emergency support to distressed British nationals.
The UK in Rwanda team would not be able to function without effective administration. Our Corporate Service team are the unsung heroes. They are a happy and dedicated team that puts customers at the centre of business. They lead on all aspects of administration: recruitment, protocol, security, logistics, transport, estates IT and finance to name a few. They manage complex tenders for the goods and services that we procure on the local market – developing close working relationships with Rwandan suppliers.
The UK in Rwanda team does more than just politics and development support. We put people first through our focus on learning and development and we build close links between the Rwandan and British communities. We strive to give the best quality of work through our innovative and open ideas irrespective of who we are and what levels of administration we represent.