|www.newsofrwanda.com - 2012|
Although Rwanda has relatively low youth unemployment rates compared to other countries in Africa, there is so much to be done for those without employment. Unemployment rates in the country were 4.7% in 2001 and increased to a record 13.2% in 2016. This increase in the unemployment rate directly corresponds to youth in Rwanda, since about 70% of the country’s population are youth (below 35 years of age).
For young people who need to make their own future this is a crucial issue. Rwanda has established different policies to reduce youth unemployment. Youth talents are now being considered, free professional courses are provided, primary and secondary studies are free for public schools and entrepreneurial training is available. Despite all these efforts made by the government, youth unemployment continues to be a problem and worsens almost every day. We are forced to wonder if the policies we have introduced are not enough to prevent the increase of joblessness.
A number of Rwandan youth claim that their unemployment is due to the fact that their skills and knowledge are not “believed in” by companies, institutions, schools and other organizations. As a result, the job vacancies in these places are offered to people from abroad who come to work in Rwanda. Is this craze to import employees due to the incapability of Rwandans or to the underestimation of their skills? This is a problem found in many African countries and the issue even featured in discussions at the Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda earlier this year.
In some cases a low level of education bars youth from employment opportunities. There is a great number of Rwandans who complete their studies in different fields but who are not able to perform what they learnt. A lot of the time this is because of the lack of internships or chances to put their learning into practice. It is not easy for a person to engage you as his/her employee if they doubt your education and experience, which leads us to import our workforce.
However, it must be said that some young men deny doing some jobs. A number of people are still unemployed, not because they lost jobs but because they are looking for ‘elegant’ jobs. They prefer physical smartness over self-development, they prefer sitting in an office and typing than doing mechanical works and getting their clothes dirty. As youth, we cannot expect a large number of us to get this particular type of employment since the vacancies for them are very limited [and there are ladders to climb]. It is possible for young people to create simple jobs (businesses) in Rwanda, but a very small number attempts to because the rest of the youth are still waiting for ‘great jobs’ and not simple ones - but the truth is “for someone to be on the top, he must start from the bottom”.
With unemployment growing as an issue, the Rwandan government encourages youth to create their own employment. Each year hundreds of businesses are born, but only a few of them survive. A lot of people prefer buying products produced aboard which has led to losses for Rwandan companies and thus a large number of the youth fear creating businesses so as to avoid the experience of failing. In my opinion, the problem isn’t that products are not made in Rwanda and by Rwandans. The products we are making are not good quality and nobody is going to buy something substandard just because it is made from his motherland.
Financial constraints and other circumstances can be obstacles for us, but our brains, unity and hard work will save us from unemployment. Rwandans, and Africans in general, should continue to devise strategic policies to deal with youth unemployment effectively. As governments work to create a supportive environment the African youth should not continue waiting for the ‘fancy’ jobs. It is time to wake up and meet in the middle, so We shouldn’t have to leave our continent to chase employment when we can rather fill the gaps in our countries by creating opportunities.
About The Author
Marie Louise Uwibambe
Marie currently studies Computer Science Engineering. As a youth herself, she believes the time has come for young people in Rwanda and Africa as a whole to take the initiative and lead. She believes in the potential of youth and that their time to lead is now!