International Labour Organisation (ILO) has completed the first phase of a four-year programme that seeks to improve both the skills and working conditions of workers in the informal sector in Rwanda.
The first cohort of the trainees comprised 150 workers in the paint and coating subsector who completed their training in Kigali yesterday.
The $4m-programme, dubbed, “Promoting Decent Work in Rwanda’s Informal Economy”, seeks to train some 3,000 people in tailoring and construction sectors.
The idea is to upgrading skills and address issues that undermine the safety and performance of workers in the informal sector in partnership with employers.
One of the trainees during a practice in painting.
Speaking to Saturday Times on Friday, Alexander Twahirwa, the Labour Market Governance Officer at ILO Rwanda Office, said some of the challenges are structural or legal in nature, pointing out that they are working with the Rwanda Housing Authority with view to helping fix gaps identified in the building code.
“We think it (the code) emphasises more on the quality of buildings than the rights of workers,” he said, citing issues related to hygiene, payment, insurance, and other aspects of workers’ wellbeing.
He also hinted at loopholes in the process to engage contractors. “We also intend work closely with the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) to ensure that aspects such as wages and safety of workers are also considered during evaluation of bids and contractual talks.”
The office is also working with the Ministry of Public Service and Labour to improve the compliance and enforcement of the labour law, he said.
The 150 workers that constituted the first cohort of trainees are all from Amaco Paints, a painting company based in Kigali. Most trainees were aged between 18 and 35 and the five-day training was designed to impart trainees with skills necessary in modern building painting.
Immaculée Nyampinga, a 35-year-old trainee, said: “I have been painting for three years now but there were a lot of things I didn’t know. With the skills and the certificate I have acquired I am sure I will get better pay.”
Informal sector accounts for some 90 per cent Rwanda’s workforce.
Rwanda joined ILO in 1962.