Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has urged government institutions and the private sector to do more to tackle unemployment in the country.
He made the remarks while opening a two-day regional forum in Kigali, dubbed “Employment Promotion for National Development.”
The forum seeks to promote productive employment by ensuring provision of information on job opportunities, sharing experiences and finding solutions to address unemployment and underemployment in the region.
“Unemployment is a universal challenge, but Africa has been more affected. It is a shame on African countries to have our youth drowning in the Mediterranean Sea trying to migrate to Europe for employment,” he said.
“I urge everyone from senior governmental officials to local leaders, the private sector and other stakeholders to commit to promoting youth employability; and this is possible through concerted efforts.”
Murekezi said government has deployed a lot of efforts in job creation.
“The government gives incentives to local and foreign investors in order to promote investment, employing many Rwandans. Access to finance and competitive investment policies have been designed to support private sector development.
“The emphasis on technical and vocation training, the establishment of small and medium enterprises, locally known as Agakiriro, the National Employment Programme, among others, all are intended to create jobs to tackle the unemployment problem,” the premier said.
The Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA) has organised the ongoing forum with the main support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Public Service and Labour minister Judith Uwizeye said, according to a 2012 census, unemployment rate stood at 3.4 per cent nationwide and the City of Kigali had the highest rate (14 per cent).
“Although the rate of unemployment in the country is lower than it is in most developed countries like the US where it currently stands at 5.4 per cent, our country suffers more because three quarters of the employed people are underemployed,” she said.
Sixty-seven per cent of the unemployed population are aged 16-34 years.
Francine Niyonsenga, a woman member of Agakiriro in Ngororero District, shared her success story, which she attributed to the support of the Workforce Development Authority (WDA).
“I am now self-employed doing handcrafts. We have an association which makes handbags from banana fibres and also do embroidery,” Niyonsenga said.
“I have constructed a house worth Rwf4 million, I now have four cows and I have installed biogas at home. I also have a monthly salary from WDA because we offer trainings in which 37 have graduated, 26 more are graduating this Wednesday as we continue enrolling others,” she said.
Lamin M. Manneh, the UN resident coordinator, commended the government for its National Employment Programme (Nep), aiming at creating 200,000 off-farm jobs annually.
“There is no doubt that as a result of this, Rwanda has already started to make significant strides toward promotion of employment opportunities,” Manneh said.
He said the forum should be a platform for exploring national policies, strategies, and programmes to interlink them with the national agenda of generating adequate and productive employment opportunities and that the target of 200,000 off-farm jobs should be given renewed impetus during the workshop.
Minister Uwizeye said recent data indicates that only 104,000 off-farm jobs are created annually, while growing numbers of the youth joining the labour market every year are estimated at 125,000.
The ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, is expected to address the forum today.
His assistant and regional director for Africa, Aeneas Chapinga Chuma, has appreciated NEP and assured the ILO support to the programme.