Khartoum — When Mohamed al-Amin al-Tijani graduated from the al-Nilain University's Faculty of Petroleum and Mining, he did not waste much time looking for a government job for he was well aware about the long queues of university graduates waiting for such employment. He immediately proceeded to traditional gold mining areas, where he kept working for three years.
Deeply involved in this laborious and hazardous occupation, Tijani was appalled that many miners die or fall ill when wells cave in or due to the use of mercury in gold refining. Seeing such hazards; Tijani kept thinking on ways for exploiting his university studies to help his fellow miners, his countrymen and humanity at large escape such perils. Consequently, he managed to invent a machine for the extraction of gold away from the use of mercury. His invention won him the Arab Award for Excellence and Innovation, organized in Abu Dhabi in 2016, topping all the other 143 contenders.
Engineer Tijani said his invention can eliminate the health hazards incurred by the use of mercury in gold extraction, such as lung diseases and cancer. Moreover, the use of purely physical-electric operations as provided by his machine, instead of mercury, has helped raise gold extraction from 3% - to 90%.
As a result of this breakthrough, Tijani is now receiving lots of partnership requests from businessmen in the Gulf region to manufacture the machines. He launched a workshop to manufacture the machines, which also saw high local demand. He also launched a line to produce other machines that include stone grinders, mills, engine straps and gold furnaces.
Eng. Tijani is exceptionally lucky that he could find an occupation conforming to his academic specialization, contrary to what happens with thousands of other university and college graduates who do not find suitable jobs.
According to Human Development Minister al-Sadik al-Hadi al-Mahdi Sudan had recorded two million unemployed citizens, including 455 thousand university graduates. Mahdi said last August Sudan registered a rate of unemployment of 19%, 17 % of them university graduates. He, however, said Sudan, so far, did not reach the world's recorded peak of unemployment of 25%.
The annual announcements by the authorities, that they were opening employment opportunities for university graduates or more funding windows for graduates' projects have yet to materialize on the ground.
A recent exhibition of the national project for sustainable industrial development gives a glimpse of the benefits the country can gain if the government expands financing of graduates' projects.
Khalid Ahmed, a graduate of plastic engineering, aided by bank micro-finance, has devised a machine he assembled from local substances for producing plastic electric connections.
He said his success has encouraged him to enhance the productivity of his machine that now produces 6000 units, up from 3000 units that are used in electric connections in homes and other buildings. Eng. Ahmed said his machine is receiving high demand from customers. He said the machine is also helpful in the recycling of plastic waste, thus mitigating the environmental harm of this waste. Ahmed started his project in 2011 with finance from the Savings and Industrial Development Bank's project for university graduates funding.
Ahmad Sabir Zakariya, a graduate of the Juba University, said his accounting mentality had led him to consider exploiting the high marketability of the shea butter in Sudan. He started the country's first shea butter mill with funding from the Farmer's Bank's Graduates Financing Project. The cosmetic shea butter, also known by its French name karité, is believed to soften and lengthen hair and prevent hair loss because it contains a combination of vitamins A,E and F in addition to some citric acids and minerals that enrich the hair and the skin and fight eczema.
The idea came to Zakariya during a tour of Chad, Cameroon and Ghana. He lingered about in that region watching how the shea trees grow until their fruits mature and ripen. Eventually he brought a quantity of shea seeds with him back home and started shea butter production.
Zakariya said his product is now very popular because it is fresh, original and less expensive than other products that are adulterated with fats and other substances. Those products are also costly for customers. Zakariya is asking for wider funding so that he could expand his business, import more shea seeds and employ other university graduates.
"There is high demand for the product from Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq" he said.
He said he succeeded in growing shea seedlings in Sudan, hoping that he could grow all his needs of shea trees. He urged the government to help expand the production of shea butter in Sudan that can help boost the country's export revenue as it did in many African countries, whose women organizations engage in this activity and export it the world over.
Information Technology graduate Omar Khidir said he had managed to present a new specification for sesame oil production which is cholesterol free, free from impurities and maintains the natural sesame taste. His idea was adopted and promoted by the Industrial Research and Consultations Center. It is common knowledge that Sudan is the World's third biggest producer of sesame , just after India and China. Sudan's white sesame and its oil are favored by foreign consumers , fetching high prices in Europe and the Gulf region.
Dr. Abdul Hamid Elyas of the Institute of Development Studies and Research, University of Khartoum, said it is the responsibility of the state to create jobs. "We have seen that in advanced countries when the government is unable to create jobs, it provides social support to the unemployed by giving them salaries," he said, adding that a country that fails to create jobs is accused of wasting its resources because the human resource is the most important asset of the country. Here we now see many graduates driving taxies and rickshaws and engaged in occupations that require no literacy. This is a wasting of the country's resources, in particular with graduates who cost the government and their families a lot of money during their tuition, he said.
Apart from these economic consequences, psychologists maintain that unemployment may lead to a feeling of depression, unhappiness and social stigma, a matter that could prompt the youth to harm himself one way or another. In addition, it may lead the unemployed into seclusion and a feeling of inferiority, particularly when he receives financial handouts from others or when the unemployed feels unable to get married and raise a family. Unemployment can also lead to a rise in violent behaviour, an inclination for rebellion and a desire for revenge, matters that can set the society into jeopardy.
Dr. Elyas attributes unemployment among the university graduates to "structural reasons and other reasons related to economic planning and economic failures and bottlenecks."
"There is a mismatch between the higher education output and the needs of the labor market, which already suffers a lot of problems because much of it lies in the unorganized sector. Further, the productive sectors (the industry and agriculture) now witness a decline leaving room for the unorganized economic sector which is now predominant. The latter that needs no skills, has become a resort for the university graduates." We graduate a vast number of degree holders (namely in agriculture and theoretical studies) for whom we have no jobs and whom we cannot accommodate."
Until promises made by the concerned departments in the government materialize, youth have to follow the example of Al-Tijani, Khalid and Zakariya to hip-hop a caduc and grim future. Still others have to learn the lesson of avoiding university studies that are not market oriented, least they end up on the other side with those frustrated because the education they receive cannot furnish them with a good working opportunities.