African governments, so says research, risk facing political instability, social unrest and mass emigration unless they meet the demands of the rapidly expanding young population for quality jobs.
Perharps as a way to mitigate this, Rwanda is looking at creating 1.5 million new jobs by 2024. Available data shows that only a handful of formal jobs are created in Rwanda annually, although thousands of Rwandans enter the work force each year.
Besides, the youth often lack the skills required by employers, despite gains in access to education over the past decades.
While the government has initiated several projects to support job creation, there isn’t much to show for this effort.
Some of these projects are simply adopted without feasibility studies to facilitate implementation. For example, a few years ago when the government unveiled a multi-million project – Hanga Umurimo — hopes were high, that finally, jobs would be created.
Hanga Umurimo was launched in 2011 to stimulate innovation, empower communities with critical business skills, and identify individuals with entrepreneurial aptitude to generate good and bankable business ideas. Indeed, the idea was noble.
A few years later, we can only count a handful of successful beneficiaries. We also learnt that the scheme partially failed because it benefitted a few who were not the intended beneficiaries.
There were also cases of diversion of loans intended for approved projects into other transactions - or, to put it bluntly, the funds were mismanaged.
In the end, the project did not deliver as promised and as usual taxpayers who footed the bill carried the burden of the losses.
Hanga Umurimo is but one of many initiatives that are hyped during their launch but fail in implementation because in most cases due diligence is not exercised.
As a country, we cannot afford such wasteful expenditures because they undermine ongoing efforts to reduce poverty.
Now, we have moved on to several new promising initiatives such as the creation of the Kigali Employment Centre. We pray that due diligence is exercised to ensure that this initiative not only gives young people space to process their paperwork but also facilitates them to find jobs.
More importantly, what needs urgent attention is the pace of job creation. Over the past decade, Rwanda has become a magnate for investors yet job creation by the private sector remains well below the demands of the market.
There is a need to improve the capacity of businesses and institutions to train more people on ‘hands on skills’ including providing infrastructure.
The training should be focused on basic skills to meet the immediate needs of the market.