Rwanda’s Hunt for Talent: Can Technology Support HR Challenges for a Rising Nation?
I continue my journey to explore how HR technology is being used throughout Africa. This time, I have turned my focus on Rwanda.
In my recent post, I looked at whether Kenya was ready to embrace digital HR. But as I pointed out in the post, Africa is a large continent. In fact, at over 30 million sq. km, it covers the same surface area as 13 countries – including the United States, China and India and the whole of Eastern Europe!
With 54 individual and unique markets on the African continent, it would be very naive to assume each of those countries face the same challenges. Each country has its own story, history, vision, economy and vision.
It should be recognised that although Rwanda forms part of the East Africa Community, this nation faces different challenges in the work place than Kenya.
Just 24 years ago, Rwanda experienced a horrific genocide, resulting in the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, primarily of the Tutsi tribe. The genocide ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Force (RPF), backed by the Tutsis, took control of the country.
This horrific event led to the displacement of up to 2,000,000 Rwandans. Many fled to neighbouring countries and became refugees. Clearly a tragedy of this magnitude will inevitably have deep, lasting consequences. Rwanda had to rebuild itself completely – a significant undertaking.
Under President Paul Kagame’s leadership, the economy has grown immensely in recent years. GDP economic growth has averaged 7.26 percent from 2000 until 2017, despite a temporary drop to 1.7 percent in Q4 2017 (source: Trading Economics). The country has made significant progress in a short space of time. As a result, many new industries have emerged, such as tourism, foreign trade and exports.
Rwanda is now recognised as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa – and is very open for business and foreign investment.
However, looking beneath the surface, there are some unique challenges that this rapid growth has presented.
I spoke with Denise Umunyana of Right Seat, a leading HR consultancy based in Kigali. Denise shared insights on the challenges that HR face and opportunities for harnessing digital HR solutions.
What are the HR challenges?
Denise explained that when it comes to HR technology, Rwanda is at a different position to Kenya.
The real challenge for Rwanda is less about engagement and retention but more about finding the right calibre candidates in short amount of time. Due to the rebuilding of Rwanda following the the genocide, there is not a large pool of candidates with sufficient experience to meet the market demand.
This presents a challenge in such a rapidly growing economy. Companies are look for experience, but many people do not have the deep experience they are looking for. There is a disconnect between the demand and supply of quality of talent. To coin a common phrase – a war for the best talent.
Denise explained that it is common for people to come out of school and struggle to find employment. The main reason being, they have no experience. Yet, there is no lack of desire to learn and gain the experience.
The main challenge HR face in Rwanda is urging the market to be patient. There is potential talent in the market but companies must be convinced to give people a chance to prove themselves and develop their skills.
Are digital HR solutions being used to help to address this challenge?
Technology is increasingly becoming part of everyday life in Rwanda, as with many countries in Africa.
Denise told me that HR technology is definitely something that Rwanda is open to, so long as it will help to make work more efficient. She explained that there is interest for HR technology across Rwanda but very few companies are really embracing it.
What is preventing organisations from embracing digital HR?
Essentially, cost is the number one reason according to Denise. There appears to be a perception that digital solutions cost too much.
Lack of awareness and information on market solutions is also a factor.
Denise highlighted that there is a mixed awareness among leaders. Some can appreciate how digital HR solutions can offer maximum business benefits. Unfortunately, not all business leaders fully understand this.
For those who see the benefits but have not yet invested, it is most likely due to a lack of priority and perception of high costs.
Denise expressed a concern that there are no local solutions, so the only option is to seek out international vendors. This raises questions around whether local support would be readily available.
I believe that with every challenge, there lies an opportunity.
There are no doubt opportunities to add value to HR through technology in Rwanda. This must be done in a way that directly addresses the challenges faced within the country.
Digital solutions to support the recruitment processes would be a great place to start. Leveraging tools to engage with candidates, assess potential, analyse skills and build a strong pipeline would go a long way to tackling the current challenges. Talent acquisition solutions to help reduce manual administration such as reviewing applications would enhance the efficiency and ultimately save businesses money.
As I discovered when researching Kenya, there is a compelling need to educate the market on the benefits of HR technology as a first step.
It is my belief that cost is not really the issue – it is just a matter of perception. Without any way to measure the benefits against the investment, leaders will always dismiss technology as unnecessary.
A special thanks to Denise Umunyana, Co-Founder at Right Seat for her views on how HR technology can support Rwanda’s continued growth.
Are you a HR professional in East Africa?
I would love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions. I invite you to add your comments below.
If you would like more information on how you can use HR technology effectively for your business in East Africa, please reach out to me here.