Rural-urban migration fueling youth unemployment in towns

The high level of rural-urban migration is responsible for the high unemployment rates in Rwanda’s towns, especially Kigali, the central bank governor, John Rwangombwa, has said.
Youth line up at a jobs centre. Many unemployed youth could easily get jobs in their home districts. The New Times / File.
Youth line up at a jobs centre. Many unemployed youth could easily get jobs in their home districts. The New Times / File.

The high level of rural-urban migration is responsible for the high unemployment rates in Rwanda’s towns, especially Kigali, the central bank governor, John Rwangombwa, has said.

“The biggest problem we have is the rural-urban migration that disables all the chances for the youth to get jobs.

“However, we are working out plans that will help create jobs for the youth in rural areas. This will ease the strain on the job market in urban areas,” he said.

Rwangombwa added that due to rural-urban migration, many youth were underemployed, while others were doing jobs that don’t match their skills.

The governor said there was need to sensitise students about job options in rural districts.

“We should encourage schools to emphasise the teaching of entrepreneurship. That way, by the time the students complete studies, they would have an entrepreneurial mindset,” he asserted.

Rwangombwa was speaking during the recently-concluded fifteenth senior policy seminar held by African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Kigali.

The conference, which was hosted by the National Bank of Rwanda, attracted participants from 13 countries. Deliberations were focused on the issue of unemployment among the youth in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Minister of Finance, Amb. Claver Gatete, who was also the chief guest, said by the end of the last fiscal year, Rwanda had reduced unemployment from 57 per cent to 44 per cent.

“We still have a long way to go because the youth make up almost two thirds of this figure (38 per cent),” Gatete said.

“This percentage is high by any standards. One of our aims in the next five years is to reduce unemployment in order to fulfill Rwanda’s 2020 vision.”

The government creates 91,000 jobs annually, according to the minister.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), youth make up as much as 36 per cent of the total working-age population and three in five of Africa’s unemployed are youth.

“Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world. That is very useful in our case. The high rate of youth unemployment has social consequences on the political climate of any government.

“Creating viable jobs for youth should be any government’s duty,” said William Yahunwa, the outgoing AERC executive director.

Yahunwa noted that the main causes of social and political unrest in many countries were the unemployed youth who have too much time on their hands.

He pointed out that there was need to bridge the margin between growth being experienced in Africa and job-creation, especially for the continent’s youth. He stressed that special programmes should be initiated to attract unskilled and low skilled youth, where vocational training, as well as internships could be done, to solve the problem.

Eric Ogunleye from the office of the ehief economic advisor in Nigeria, stated that the problem of unemployed youth was a general issue in Africa.

“We have plenty of unemployed youth in Africa, and in order to bring about economic transformation to the continent, we should collectively discuss the issue and come up with practical solutions,” he said.

Young people aged between 15 and 25 represent more than 60 per cent of the continent’s total population and account for 45 per cent of the total labor force.

Unlike other developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa’s population is becoming more youthful, with youth forming a proportion of the total population projected at over 75 per cent by 2015, due to the high fertility rate underlying the demographic momentum.

It is expected that this increase in the number of young people will not decline in the next 20 years or more.

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