Promoting Decent Work in Rwanda's Informal Economy

The project targets empowering over 3,000 women and youths, as well as strengthening capacity for about 600 enterprises working within the informal sector.

Promoting Decent Work in Rwanda's Informal Economy

At least 3,000 women and youths as well as 600 micro-enterprises are expected to benefit from a three-year project that is jointly implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and different partners.

Dubbed "Promoting Decent Work in Rwanda's Informal Economy," the project targets empowering over 3,000 women and youths, as well as strengthening capacity for about 600 enterprises working within the informal sector.

This was unveiled on Monday during a meeting that brought together ILO officials, the Ministry of Labour and Public Service and stakeholders from different institutions in the country.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the meeting, Jude Muzale, ILO's National Programme Coordinator, said that the main objective is to contribute to delivering the much-needed employment opportunities in the country.

"Our objective is to enable systemic change, looking at why markets are not working to meet the needs of people. For instance, why does the construction sector not working well for particular workforce? We'll be involving different partners to address the root causes," he noted.

"We are looking at 1,500 young people, 1,500 women and around 600 micro-enterprises, then we can scale it up in the process," he added, highlighting that about $3.2 million (approximately Rwf2.7 billion) is expected to be invested in the project for the next two to three years.

According to the Labour Force Survey 2017, the overall employment statistics are low with over 54 per cent of the workforce in employment of which 45.3 per cent are female workers and 54.7 per cent are male. The national unemployment rate is at 16.7 per cent.

Currently, nearly 91 per cent of the total employment in the country is trapped in the informal economy.

The project targets to promote productive employment and social protection benefits, strengthen labour market institutions, and increase engagement of social partners, among other targets.

At the meeting, participants indicated that the high number of people in the informal economy are still associated with decent work deficits, including high levels of poverty, long working hours, absence of proper contracts, and lack of stability and security.

This particular programme will focus mainly on building construction sub-sector as well as garments and tailoring, where officials, said there are bigger challenges than other sectors.

A market systems analysis presented on Monday shows that the construction sector in Rwanda depends almost exclusively on the informal workforce.

98 per cent of people in this sector are informal workers, many of which have very low skills. On the other hand, 87 per cent have completed primary education or less.

"At the same time, the poor wages and irregular payment, worker occupational safety and health risks, irregular contracts and limited training opportunities are the common challenges faced by vast majority of workers,"Muzale said.

Under the project, they target to launch advocacy campaign targeting government and contractors, influence capacity development of technical staff and management, develop centralized inventory of contractor legal obligations, and set-up engineering knowledge course, just to mention a few.

Officials highlighted that they will be working with stakeholders including Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Workforce Development Authority (WDA), Rwanda Institute of Architects (RIA) and different ministries.

Source: The New Times

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