Rwanda’s unemployment stands at 16.7 per cent as of February this year, according to statistics from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
The statistics follow a labour force survey done by the institute in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service and Labour beginning last year.
The new numbers are based on the new definition of employed and unemployed which the statisticians say caused the numbers to go up.
Under the definition, unemployed people totaled 606,997 as of February this year.
Youth unemployment stands at 21 per cent.
For one to be considered unemployed, they must have not be involved in any income generating activity, seeking employment and also available to start work.
Out of about 11.6 million Rwandans, the statistics show that 6.7 million are working age (16 years and above).
However, of the working age population, about half are out of the labour force due to factors such as retirement, illness and studies, leaving only 3.6 million as part of the labour force (employed or unemployed).
The definition of employed in the survey means people who have worked for pay or profit at least an hour in seven days or absent from work.
NISR director-general Yusuf Murangwa explained that the findings also show that the informal sector remains the major employer.
There were in total 2,748,000 persons with informal employment at main job, constituting almost 91 per cent of total employment.
“About 30 per cent of the population were found to be underemployed meaning that they work for less than 35 hours a week,” Murangwa said.
“The average income from paid employment of employees at main job was about Rwf55,934 per month while the median was Rwf20,800. The national average hourly cash income from employment of employees at main job was Rwf394 per hour. The corresponding values were Rwf228 per hour in agriculture, Rwf529 per hour in industry, and Rwf604 per hour in services,” the report reads in part.
Murangwa said, from the findings, only 6 per cent of the labour force has university qualification while about 50 per cent has no academic qualification.
In the employed category, 51 per cent have no academic qualification.
Agriculture continues to be the biggest employer at 45.9 per cent of the population with service sector at 39.8 per cent.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete, said the findings will come in handy as the Government sets out to create 1.5 million jobs by 2024.
He said the Government has been rolling out various initiatives to promote employment creation, including the National Employment Programme, capacity building, among others.
The findings, Gatete said, will enable policy-makers to identify areas that require strengthening.
Gaspard Musonera, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, said they will use the findings to match labour market needs and employment seekers as well as identify areas that require additional investment.