The National Leadership Retreat, also known as Umwiherero is one of Rwanda’s Homegrown Initiatives. Umwiherero, best translated as “retreat”, refers to a tradition in Rwandan culture where leaders convene in a secluded place in order to reflect on issues affecting their communities.

Umwiherero, best translated as “retreat”, refers to a tradition in Rwandan culture in which leaders convene in a secluded place to reflect on issues affecting their communities, with the objective of identifying solutions. On a smaller scale, this term also refers to the action of moving to a quiet place to discuss issues with a small group of people.


In modern times, the Government of Rwanda has drawn on this tradition to reflect on, and address, the challenges the country faces on an annual basis. Umwiherero is organized by the Office of the President (OTP) in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO). The President chairs Umwiherero, during which presentations and discussions focus on a broad range of development challenges, including economics, politics, justice, infrastructure, health, education, and others. Contemporary Umwiherero was originally intended exclusively for senior public officials but has evolved to include leaders from the private sector and from civil society.

Improvement over time

Umwiherero began in 2004. The first four years of Umwiherero saw mixed results, and in this period it tended to be a grand yet unstructured brainstorming discussion.

To streamline and strengthen government coordination, President Paul Kagame established the Strategy and Policy Unit in OTP and the Coordination Unit in PMO. At the same time, the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs was set up to improve the functioning of the Cabinet. The two newly formed units in OTP and PMO were tasked with working together to implement Umwiherero. While the first retreat which was organised by the two new teams, suffered from similar problems to previous retreats, in recent years improvements have been noticeable.

Following Umwiherero in 2009, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs served as head of the newly formed steering committee tasked with overseeing the retreat. The steering committee was comprised of fourteen members. Alongside the steering committee, working groups were set up to define the priorities to be included on the retreat agenda. This process was overseen by the Strategy and Policy Unit which developed a concept paper with eleven priority areas to be approved by the Prime Minister and the President.

Read More Discover Rwanda

4.9/5 - (16 votes)

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Verified by MonsterInsights