Rwanda to release INNODIP; an online tool to reduce unemployment in 2023

Michael Akuchie
Rwanda to release INNODIP, an online tool to reduce unemployment in 2023

Innovative Digital Platform (INNODIP), a project spearheaded by the University of Tourism, Technology, and Business Studies (UTB) and the Rwandan government to tackle unemployment, will launch fully by December 2023.

A test version will be available by September, though. Its main objective will be to help the government generate 1.5 million off-farm jobs for unemployed citizens, including the disabled. 

Illustrating the function of INNODIP, Prince Wasajja Kiwanuka – the project director – said it will leverage web-based technology and interface to “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.” A mobile application will be developed for INNODIP. 

Rwanda, like many countries on the continent, has a skill gap in business, technology, and data science. Its economy is mainly informal, a fact that hasn’t helped one bit. Also worth mentioning is that several mismatches between employer expectations and graduate skillsets have contributed to the country’s unemployment growth. 

Hand holding a placard

Although post-genocide Rwanda has witnessed tremendous growth in many areas, including poverty reduction, unemployment has remained a critical problem. According to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (NISR), 792,115 persons were unemployed as of February 2023, representing 17.2%. The unemployment rate for women (19.3%) was higher than for men (15.5%). 

Rwanda has been vocal about tackling unemployment in recent years, a significant effort being the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). With the majority of its labour force deeply invested in agriculture, one of the NST1’s significant priorities is creating 1.5 million off-farm jobs as part of efforts to tap into other sectors like construction and light manufacturing. 

Some other priorities include turning Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy, speeding its urbanization, and ensuring it wisely manages its natural resources to ease the shift to green energy.

Rwanda NST1

INNODIP aims to consolidate the government’s efforts by revolutionizing the future of work in Rwanda. Sponsored by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKAid) and Research and Innovation for Africa (RISA), the project became necessary after a group of university scholars conducted a study on the state of collaborations between the academic community and the private sector. 

Partnerships between academia and university are necessary for two major reasons. In today’s world, companies seek ways to increase their customer base by releasing innovative products. As such, it’s no surprise when players in the private sector join forces with tertiary institutions. What’s more, both parties benefit. 

Industry gains highly skilled workers with relevant experience culled from the student community, while academia bolsters its learning by interacting with fresh technologies and potentially life-changing ideas. 

The researchers discovered an “insufficient utilization of research within both academia and industry”, adding that the partnership level between academia and industry stood at 50%. Interestingly, 88.4% of the research participants believed a digital platform would bridge the gap between both parties. 

As such, the study called for an online-based tool that, when launched, won’t just address the collaboration deficit but include more features like research facilitation, curriculum review, and internship placements. If successful, this solution will be extended to neighbouring Kenya and Uganda. 

Read also: Nexford University partners 270 employers, Africa Digital Media Institute to tackle graduate unemployment in Kenya

Can INNODIP help Rwanda create new jobs? 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rwanda is an agricultural nation, with 70% of the population engaged in the field. While this promotes food security and builds a steady supply of raw materials with which companies produce medicine and other essentials, it does leave the one-sector economy vulnerable to the impact of sudden changes in the price of its exports. 

As such, it must open doors for other sectors like manufacturing and construction. These spaces, of course, demand relevant skills. This is where INNODIP comes in. At first glance, it appears to be a job placement platform like Fiverr or Indeed, but there’s more.

When launched, it’ll undertake frequent job market studies to determine in-demand roles and gather information about job seekers with exact or similar skills. 

All you need to know about starting up a business in Rwanda

As mentioned, INNODIP will offer graduates internship opportunities in developed locations like Qatar and Dubai. Interestingly, 700 students and workers have found internship placement in the above markets thanks to UTB, the university tasked with bringing INNODIP to fruition. 

Thanks to unending technological advances, the job market is changing rapidly. Although this solution isn’t expected to eradicate unemployment completely, it offers a modern take on how Africa tackles the problem.

Rwanda is already considered one of the countries with the best tech hubs on the continent. Tech, and the growing conversations about its potential, are important for any country eying economic diversification and foreign investments. 

Only forward-thinking nations can tap into economic growth, and INNODIP can accelerate Rwanda’s efforts in churning out job seekers equipped for today’s world. 

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