More needs to be done to address skills shortage

Shortage of skilled manpower continues to be a thorn in the flesh of many sectors in the economy. The latest to voice this concern is the mining industry, where the private sector and the government depend on just a handful of geologists and mining engineers.

Shortage of skilled manpower continues to be a thorn in the flesh of many sectors in the economy. The latest to voice this concern is the mining industry, where the private sector and the government depend on just a handful of geologists and mining engineers.

The miners say lack of qualified people is affecting the sector’s performance and increasing the cost of doing business. This situation is not good for the country’s development efforts. The shortage of geologists, mining engineers and technicians could erode the gains the sector has so far made, thus reducing its contribution to growth and easing the country’s huge balance of payments challenge.

The sector raked in $161m (about Rwf112.3b) export revenue last year, up from $87m in 2012.

 It is projected to bring in over $224m this year (about Rwf156.4b).  It is among the top five major foreign exchange earners for Rwanda. However, with problems like this and reluctance by banks to fund the industry, will this growth be sustained and improved?

Addressing this and other challenges affecting all sectors of the economy will be essential to sustain the country’s competitiveness and appeal to investors.

 However, the challenge is an indictment on tertiary institutions, calling for review of their curricula so they can equip students with skills that are relevant to the economy. Remember, business people want to invest in places where there is easy access to skilled and affordable manpower. Let all stakeholders join hands with the Education Ministry and industrialists to ensure that the country develops the right skills to drive its growth strategy, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy EDPRS II targets.