THE THEME of the just concluded Third Annual National Employment Forum was “Work for self Reliance”.
The philosophy behind the theme is a far cry from the traditional concept of aspiring to be a civil servant once done with school. That was an automatic placement in the days when the civil service was understaffed and lucrative, but days have changed.
Today, many global economies are affected by a high rate of unemployment and the Rwandan government is aware of the dangers. It never fails to drum up the “create jobs” slogan.
The brains behind the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), well aware that the employable labour force was well above 70 per cent among the youth, set in motion the National Employment Programme.
The programme targets to create 200,000 off-farm jobs every year and, if achieved, that would be no mean feat. But it calls for more efforts on the government’s side to encourage financial institutions to support Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs).
One way of doing it would be to use its Repo rate (interest rate banks pay to borrow from the central bank) as leverage: the more banks lend to SMEs and startups, the better financial terms and benefits they get from the National Bank of Rwanda.
Financial institutions enjoy favourable borrowing conditions from the government, they should translate that in their dealings with young investors, otherwise empowering the youth will not come at the desired pace.