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Ten years after the launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), this Chaillot Paper looks back on its evolution, unveils shifting attitudes towards the EaP programme and provides analyses of both the successes and failures experienced in the six partner states.

In the framework of the cocktail organised by the House of Training Luxembourg on 11/10/2019 during which this international training organisation handed over a Certificate of Achievement to all 22 professional attendees of the training of training (ToT) program for RAF 1, I addressed the future trainers emphasising on my dream about the mission of the future trainers of our program and on the role they and the training programs should play in Rwandan society. Above the importance of setting up a sustainable vocational training program for starting employees in the banking sector, the goal of this entire program transcends the banking sector and will indisputably have consequences for the economic progress of Rwanda.

A vocational program for beginners in the banking sector including 9 modules that also include capital markets and anti-money laundering, is aimed at giving bank employees opportunities in the sector and ensuring their employability and self-confidence for the future. After all, the danger in the banking sector is that people become specialists in a specific area, but that they cannot be deployed further if their specialization ceases in the future for technological reasons.

What makes RAF attractive is that we insist on the continuous transfer of knowledge to local trainers, both in terms of content and in terms of education. Because they function in a local environment, the trainers manage to anchor the international principles of banking locally by translating them into local legislation and local economic situations and needs. The sealing of the blended program with an in-depth exam will result in commitment and in a larger number of professionals in the long term. Sustainability is guaranteed there.

Extending the principles of credit to investigating the creditworthiness of both individuals and companies (micro companies and SMEs, corporate) and introducing these data as the first argument of creditworthiness, regardless of the collateral to be provided, we will address the problem of access to finance soften over time. The follow-up of the data will also enable banks to detect promising customers , especially MSMEs, and to accompany them in further growth. Access to finance is indeed recognised as the main problem for developing economies and their newly set-up private enterprises and farms.

The program is also very committed to payment systems and the influence of technology on them. It develops examples of services that such systems can deliver to residents in more remote places. By integrating this aspect, we also invite banks to achieve inclusion in this way. It requires an important investment from the side of the sector, but the surrounding competition from the non-banking sector is forcing everybody to take the necessary steps.

The banking sector is constantly in transition and faces huge challenges. Digitization is putting considerable pressure on its traditional monopoly. The Libra set up by Marc Zuckerberg will shake the traditional bank model to its very foundations. On the other hand, SMS banking and smartphone banking have thoroughly improved life in Africa. Unfortunately it is the telecom companies that have been the first beneficiaries of this trend, but not the banks. It is therefore essential that the banking sector plays its trump cards: competence and quality of service. I am convinced that banking is still a people business. And this cannot be replaced by a robot. Whether this is sufficient to remain profitable will become clear in the coming years. But RAF allows us to prepare the sector for this by forming skilled, talented and innovative employees who can face the upcoming challenges and therefore make a difference in the future.

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