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Youth encouraged to join the digital economy to accelerate the job creation

Rwanyange Rene Anthere

The Rwanda workers’ trade Unions confederation, CESTRAR, hosts a two-day joint workshop, 3-4 April 2024, of Rwanda Trade Unions’ representatives on boosting jobs and enhancing skills in Rwanda’s digital economy and to define the role of trade unions in the on-going UN Global accelerator on job and social protection for just transitions process in Rwanda.

This workshop aims to unpacking and exploring opportunities to align ILO’s project on boosting jobs and enhancing skills in Rwanda’s digital economy with trade unions’ mandate in the broader context of International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s research on the UN global accelerator on job and social protection for just transitions.

Trade Unions play a big role for youth sensitization through different ways including recruitment to join trade unions and professional trainings.

Comrade Andre Mutsindashyaka, Secretary General of Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union –REWU, emphasizes that Trade unions have a big role in mobilizing youth to be part of the digital economy as this digital economy is the current and future of the world of work.

“Our youth are encouraged to search for skills of digital technology to be able to become competitive on the labour market as well as creating their own businesses”, he says.

Comrade Mutsindashyaka gives the recommendation. “I wish the project of ILO on digital economy to think about the youth from mining sector as they are the ones who are in need to be secured by labor standards,” he expresses.

Comrade Nsengiyumva Jeremie, the Secretary General of workers’ union in agriculture –STAVER (trade Union of Agriculture, Fishing, Veterinary and Environment workers in Rwanda), also expressed the need for trade unions to have a vital role in mobilizing young people to join trade unions, but young people tend to like things fast and trade unions requires patience.

“The problem is that unions don’t have enough resources, employers don’t help with union support programs in their companies and labor laws don’t require employers to make contributions to workers’ wages,” he said.

Comrade Regine Akarikumutima is a teacher and one of the COTRAF’s representatives in the workshop. She said that the role of trade unions is to train youth in the laws that regulate them and show them the gaps in order to advocate for themselves or work with organizations that can do advocacy to remove the gaps that are in the labor law especially digital workers and economy. 

She recommends unions to register employees and their sectors of work that are working in digital economy without ignoring those working in informal sector, provide training programs that will enhance opportunities that are in digital economy.

Comrade Africain Biraboneye, the Secretary General of CESTRAR said that Rwanda’s youth have been provided with a variety of opportunities to work and use digital economy platforms and these opportunities should not go to waste.

He further emphasized that even though Rwanda is among the developing countries and on the high track in technology, they are challenges that still exist in relation to skills, internet coverage especially in rural areas, Access to Information…

Fatima Sirelkhatim, the Project Manager from ILO Rwanda, said that the 2-day workshop entitled “Empowering Rwanda’s Gig Economy Workers: Advancing Decent Digital Jobs for Youth”, aims to build on the ongoing discussion on the rights of gig economy workers and proposes strategies for promoting decent digital employment opportunities, especially for Rwanda’s youth.

The way forward after this workshop, she expressed that “The collaborative discussions are to understand the gig economy landscape and to work towards defining concrete steps to advance the rights of platform workers and foster inclusive, sustainable growth in the changing world of work.”

The digital economy is considered the main driver of economic growth in both developed and developing countries. It is mainly based on ICT and shall increase productivity, reduce the cost of key factors, exert the network radiation effect, improve the allocation efficiency of production factors, and ultimately improve the efficiency of regional resource allocation.

At the same time, digital transformation can lead to serious social consequences, such as increased unemployment, reduced labor force, the disappearance of companies, cybercrime, and so on.

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