The Rwandan Civil Society Platform (RCSP) has called for the enhancement of the services industry to fight poverty.
The call was made during a one-day public policy dialogue on the causes of unemployment in Rwanda held in Kigali on Thursday.
“Unemployment cannot be pushed to zero, but more can be done to reduce it. The best way to fight poverty lies in building a strong services sector,” said Edouard Munyamariza, the spokesperson of RCSP.
“The sectors that cover tourism, mining, construction, hospitality and crafts, among other services, would be the best to help us create more jobs once improved and strengthened,” he added.
An assessment study presented at the meeting highlighted a number of causes of unemployment in Rwanda.
These include; difficulties in accessing business start-up capital, high interest rates charged on loans which hinders entrepreneurship, and implementation gap in line institutions such as the Business Development Fund (BDF).
Others are taxes on business startups, the education sector that is seen not to address the labour market demand and hence culminating into a mismatch between supply and demand of skills requirement.
The existence of negative attitudes towards blue-collar jobs in preference for white-collar jobs by graduates was also cited among the causes of unemployment.
According to the Integrated Households Living Conditions Survey (EICV 4), the unemployment rate in Rwanda stands at 2 per cent among the population in the working age bracket. The rate becomes higher among university graduates as it stands at 13.5 per cent.
However, Judith Uwizeye, the Minister for Public Service and Labour, said several initiatives had been put in place to scale down unemployment.
“We have committed to offering technical and vocational training to young graduates who might have pursued courses that may not be much needed in the labour market so that they can create their own jobs,” she said.
She cited programmes that aim to enable people create jobs including Kora Wigire, Vision 2020 Umurenge (VUP) and TVET programmes, among others.
“However, there is a need for enhanced joint efforts in order to properly address unemployment, especially for young graduates.”
According to the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2), 200,000 new off-farm jobs are targeted annually. However, the ECV4 shows that only 146,000 off-farm jobs were created annually in the last three years.