The national Institute of Statistics reported in 2017 that unemployment stood at 16.7% while youth unemployment stood at 21%.
The same survey shows that 91% of those employed are in the informal sector, against the Rwanda’s target to create 1.5 million new off farm jobs in the next seven years.
Rwanda has found several formula to reach such employment targets, and one amongst many, is the national labor mobility policy.
On June 6, the Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame approved the mobility policy which establishes a new initiative that will see Rwandan nationals move abroad for employment opportunities.
Few weeks later on June 27, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that would see the two countries work together to ensure labour mobility.
The signed MoU is expected to facilitate labour mobility between Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates, allowing Rwandans to access jobs opportunities in the United Arab Emirates through exchange of workforce as well as transfer of skills and knowledge.
The Minister of Public Service and Labour, Fanfan Rwanyindo signed on behalf of the Government of Rwanda while Nasser Bin Thani Juma Al Hamli, the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratization represented the UAE.
The agreement, which will see a big number of Rwandans shipped to UAE to work in different sectors of the economy, was the first big agreement to export Rwandan labour abroad since the approval of the national labour mobility policy.
According to Minister Rwanyindo the agreement with the UAE is the first under the new arrangement which is set to see hundreds of Rwandans travel abroad for employment opportunities in a development the government says will benefit young unemployed Rwandans.
“We came up with the policy after getting many offers asking us to provide labour by different countries and organisations abroad. It was put in place to ensure that the process is streamlined and well organized to avoid cases of mistreatment and exploitation,” Minister Rwanyindo told KT Press.
According to the Minister, while in the past some Rwandans have been able to travel and work abroad individually, under the new labour mobility policy, the government and different stakeholders involved will be able to coordinate the process of moving people to work abroad.
“We have heard cases in neighboring countries where people are taken to work in different countries by private companies but often claims of mistreatment and exploitation are reported. The labour mobility policy was put in place to address these challenges,”
“The government will be directly involved in the process to transfer Rwandan workers abroad and follow up closely on their conditions. Our embassies will also be directly involved. It becomes easier to follow up on the situation if people go to work abroad through recognized arrangements,” Rwanyindo told KT Press.
During the talks, both sides stressed the keenness of their countries to enhance their labour relations.
In his statement, Al Hamli said that the MoU aims to establish a new phase of understanding between the two parties, to implement the best practices in recruiting Rwandan workers while noting that the MoU is part of his ministry’s strategic plan to ensure cultural diversity in the UAE labour market and provide qualified workers.
Both sides also agreed on a system for recruiting and employing workers in the UAE private sector, which will ensure transparency and comply with the laws and regulations of both countries.
They also agreed to launch joint programmes and activities to raise the awareness of Rwandan workers before they leave their country and after arriving in the UAE about the standards of temporary contractual employment.
The MoU stipulates that in the event of a dispute between an Emirati employer and a Rwandan worker, a complaint must be registered with the relevant department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, which will try to find an amicable settlement within a specified timeframe, or refer the complaint to judicial authorities for adjudication.
In recent years, reports of domestic workers and other labourers, especially from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, being ill-treated or sometimes killed in Middle East have been rife on social media with governments trading blame with private companies which ship the workers.
Rights watchdogs last year accused different Middle Eastern countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, that in some cases, workers have been subjected to torture and deprivation.
On the side of the Government of Rwanda, the signing ceremony was also attended by Rosemary Mababazi, Minister of Youth and Clare Akamanzi – CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Cabinet Member, among other Government Officials.
Through this agreement, the Government of Rwanda seeks to promote job creation for competent and skilled Rwandan Youth in line with the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1).