More than half (68%) of adult Rwandans are underemployed in agriculture and the private sector even as the national unemployment rate is estimated at just 1%, according to a recent survey.
Anna Mugabo, the director general of labor and employment at the ministry of public service says that these figures were obtained from a recent survey in which about 4% of the adults were interviewed. Only 32% of Rwandans are considered to be in full employment--able to get work for more than 35 hours in a week.
Kigali city has the highest unemployment rate with 13 out of every 100 people unable to find work for a single hour in seven days. Unemployment in other urban areas is 8.8% while rural areas are at 1.2%.
According to ILO, underemployed people are those who work at least one hour per week while the unemployed those without work yet are available to work and actively looking for employment.
On the other hand, a report released last month by the African Economic Outlook 2012, says that youth unemployment in Rwanda remains a major challenge to achieving inclusive growth.
"An estimated 42% of young people, who also constitute nearly 40% of the population, are either unemployed or underemployed in the subsistence sector," the report stated. A mismatch of skills, and limited job growth and expansion are major causes of youth unemployment.
But Mugabo says that new policies and strategies to promote employment reflect a hopeful trend. The strategies include an on-going incubation program designed to help skilled and semi-skilled people to pursue entrepreneurship so as encourage people to become self-employed and job creators other than being seekers.
"Beneficiaries are facilitated to acquire skills in project preparation and execution. They are supported to have access to business loans through banks and BDF provides collateral security," Mugabo said.
The new job creation program dubbed "Hanga Umurimo" is also among other strategies meant to promote employment by supporting people with good business ideas through access to finance.
In the same context, graduates are to get access to work premises through Integrated Craft Production Centers "Udukingiro" program. "This is to help graduates to start up and put their skills into practice and other people that would wish to upgrade their skills," she said.
Introduction of entrepreneurship into the school curriculum, public works that offer short-term jobs to the private sector are among other strategies to promote employment in the country.
Generally, according to the official, some strategies and policies in place resulted in creating more jobs in non-agriculture than in agriculture sector; though supply remains greater than demand.
She for instance says that 528,000 people were absorbed in non-agriculture sector since 2008 up to 2011 while 132,000 were absorbed in agriculture sector.
"When we look at labor market, supply is greater than demand," Mugabo points out. "On average, in the last five years, 125 000 people join the labor market each year while the capacity of the economy to generate new off-farm jobs was 104 000 on average each year in the same period."
In the same time, waged employment on farms and non-farm self employment grew by 14% per year while it grew by 12% in non-farm establishments. By contrast, farm self-employment stagnated and remained at around 3 million since 2006 up to 2011 despite rapid population growth.
"An estimated 42% of young people, who also constitute nearly 40% of the population, are either unemployed or underemployed in the subsistence sector"
Agriculture leads employment by industry also grew. For instance, agriculture registered 430,000 new jobs between 2002 and 2011 while trade and government registered 337,000 and 127,000 respectively in the same period.
In general, the official says that big increases were mainly registered in mining and construction sectors where it increased by 22% per year while tourism increased by 21% per year. To keep the trend more dynamic and sustainable, the labor and employment boss says they already set up a comprehensive national framework to coordinate and monitor employment promotion.
The framework consists of a national labor council - a board approved by the Cabinet and composed of representatives of workers, employers, civil society and the government. Its mandate is to resolve issues concerning labor and employment at the national level. The council, coordinated by ministry of public service and labor, meets quarterly except when there is an urgent issue, she explains.
In addition, national stakeholders' forum also convenes once a year to evaluate the achievements of employment promotion activities. "We have formed inter-ministerial committees supported by focal points in every institution which has employment in its mandate to provide employment information and avoid overlaps," Mugabo said.