Shifting the Cabinet into High Gear: Agile Policymaking in Rwanda, 2008-2012

In 2008, the challenges of managing a growing economy and translating gains into higher standards of living put many issues on the agenda of Rwanda’s cabinet. The top-level policymaking process had to keep pace. Weekly meetings of Cabinet ministers were loosely organized that too often wasted the valuable time of the government’s top decision makers. Aware of the need to streamline operations at the center of government, President Paul Kagame created a Ministry in Charge of Cabinet Affairs, led by Charles Murigande, his longtime foreign affairs minister. Murigande quickly concluded that Cabinet-level confusion arose largely from a lack of clear guidelines for ministers on how to manage policy formulation and develop clear and complete policy proposals colleagues could understand easily and act upon quickly. He also suspected that not all the items on the agenda really required the attention of the whole cabinet. Murigande and his successor, former Minister of Local Government Protais Musoni, crafted a policy development manual for ministries, developed ways to resolve policy differences without involving the entire Cabinet, and introduced other changes that made Cabinet sessions shorter and more efficient. Although weaknesses remained in 2012, new Cabinet procedures improved the quality of policy proposals, promoted fast and responsible decision making, and gave Rwanda’s top government officials more time to deal with the country’s pressing problems.
Jonathan Friedman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, during June 2012. Case published September 2012. See related case, “Improving Coordination and Prioritization: Streamlining Rwanda’s National Leadership Retreat, 2008-2011.”
Associated Interview(s):  Protais Musoni
Charles Murigande
Paul Kagame
cabinet meetings
Vision 2020
Africa Governance Initiative
Tony Blair
Focus Area(s)
Centers of Government
Critical Tasks
Adaptive management
Cabinet reform
Improving cabinet efficiency
Preparation of policy papers and choices
Core Challenge
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Jonathan (Yoni) Friedman