Next generation of 200,000 jobs requires more than just going beyond farms
Kampala, Uganda | STEPHEN NUWAGIRA | Damascene Tuyisenge is a graduate teacher. But he had failed to get a job – until he enrolled at Kigali Employment Service Centre (KESC), a government entrepreneurship training facility in the Rwandan capital.
Today, Tuyisenge runs his own business and talks excitedly about how KESC turned his life around.
“The training helped me to discover my potential and now I am my own boss,” he says, “I earn good money every day.”
He describes his business which he started with Rwf100,000 (Approx. U.S$100) and has been growing step-by-step.
Tuyisenge’s story is similar to many that Alloys Niyonsaba, the KESC manager, hears often. “It is important to train job-seekers, especially fresh graduates and other young people, to equip them with the requisite expertise to be able to start up their own enterprises and employ other Rwandans,” he says.
The government set up KESC as part of interventions to create over 200,000 off-farm jobs. Niyonsaba’s job is to train fresh graduates and other city residents in various trades; including entrepreneurship and business management, as part of the government strategy to promote job-creation through self-employment.
“Instead of young people waiting for government or corporate jobs that they might never get, we equip them with skills to start their own enterprises and employ other Rwandans,” he says.
The youth are also supported to secure loans from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) under the Business Development Fund (BDF) to kick-start or expand their enterprises.
It’s an urgent mission as the unemployment statistics in Rwanda are not good. The national unemployment rate is 16.7 per cent. In Kigali, the most urbanised part of the country, it is 18.1 per cent. Among the youth, who are the biggest demographic, unemployment is 21 per cent.
The unemployment figures are matched with equally worrying poverty numbers. The government’s plan is to ensure that Rwandans attain a high standard of living in a mid-income economy with an average income per person of about US$1,264 (Approx. Rwf 1 million) per year.
That figure is currently U.S$778 with about 30% of Rwandans living in extreme poverty. These are conditions which are described by the Metadata Handbook, EDPRS2 & MDGs indicators, 2014 as living on less than Rwf64,000 (Approx. U.S$ 70) per adult per year measured in 2001 prices and equivalent to Rwf118,000 (Approx. Rwf 135) according to 2010 prices.