Rwanda: Innovative Digital Platform Seeks to Curb Unemployment in Rwanda

An Innovative, Research based, and inclusive digital platform project (INNODIP), driven by academia and industry officials, has received approval for the establishment of a groundbreaking digital platform that will bridge the gap between industry and academic resources in order to tackle unemployment levels in the country.

This innovative digital platform is a key component of the ongoing implementation of the research-based and inclusive project, which was launched in February of this year.

The project aims to augment the existing efforts of the government in creating off-farm employment opportunities, including those for people living with disabilities.

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Supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKAid) and Research and Innovation for Africa (RISA), and spearheaded by the University of Tourism, Technology, and Business Studies (UTB) in collaboration with other universities in Rwanda, this all-encompassing project brings together both governmental and private sector entities.

Research conducted by university scholars reveals that there is a pressing need for collaboration between industry and academia, as the lack of such collaboration has been identified as one of the main causes of unemployment.

The research findings indicate that there is currently insufficient utilisation of research within both academia and industry, and that the level of collaboration between the two sectors is only moderately satisfactory, standing at around 50 per cent.

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“The findings clearly illustrate the significant lack of collaboration, and yet a considerable percentage of respondents (88.4 per cent) expressed the need for a digital platform that could connect them,” explained Emmanuel Kassajja, the lead researcher.

The research recommendations strongly advocate for the establishment of a digital platform that can effectively address the existing gaps, not only in terms of employment, but also by encompassing other aspects such as research facilitation, curriculum review, and internship placements, all of which contribute to addressing the underlying causes of unemployment.

Rwanda has set an ambitious target of creating 1.5 million off-farm jobs by 2024, with the aim of reducing youth unemployment. However, recent statistics from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) indicate that the unemployment rate reached 17.2 per cent in 2023.

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Dr Lillian Umutesi, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic of UTB, revealed that the digital platform will be developed locally by Rwandan tech experts, without any outsourcing. The prototype of the platform is expected to be ready by September, with full functionality scheduled for December 2023.

Prince Wasajja Kiwanuka, the INNODIP Project Coordinator, explained that the platform will utilise web-based technology and interface, accompanied by a mobile application. This will enable easy access and data entry for all users, including job applicants, industry stakeholders providing recommendations for curriculum revisions, and internship opportunities, while ensuring high-level data protection.

According to Paul Muvara, a Master of Business Administration graduate from the University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics, the introduction of this platform is poised to be a game changer for students. Previously, students had to depend on their relatives or go through a lengthy application process, often due to the lack of experience.

However, Muvara believes that this platform has the potential to alter this landscape and provide new opportunities for students.

Dr Simeon Wiehler, the Vice-Chancellor of UTB, emphasised the critical need for this platform, as it promises to revolutionise the way graduates secure employment, share information, and enable universities to equip individuals with the right skills aligned with market demands.

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“This platform will not only directly connect skilled graduates with the industrial labour market but also address the predicament faced by former graduates who lack direct links to the job industry,” stated Wiehler.