This research project is implemented by IPAR Rwanda in partnership with the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) based in Nairobi, with funding from the MasterCard Foundation. The research project aims to investigate the nature and dynamics of youth aspirations in Rwanda and in other six Sub-Saharan Countries. The project further seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented to youth by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in as far as fulfilling their aspirations is concerned.
About 43% of the Rwandan population are categorized as youth between the ages of 16 and 301. Accordingly, the Government of Rwanda has placed youth empowerment is at the core of national development by enacting several policies and programmes to support the youth. These include : The Private Sector Development and Youth Employment Strategy (PSDYES), National Youth Policy 2015, National Strategy for Transformation (NST1, 2017-2024), National Employment Policy (NEP) of 2015, among others. The relevance of youth empowerment is signified by the fact that the policy efforts notwithstanding, youth unemployment remains relatively high, estimated at 21.7%2 (higher than 17.9% among the general population), and also higher than the rest of East African countries (Uganda 13.3%, Kenya 17.6% Tanzania 13.47%). The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened this.
The high unemployment rates may signal that stakeholders in Rwanda need to do more to promote the economic, social and political aspirations of young men and women. Interventions ought to consider factors such as preferences, socio-economic status, and environment that influence differences among endowments and aspirations of youth. Such efforts call for a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approach to youth empowerment, based on credible evidence on the youth challenge and potential remedies.