The Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar like other countries invest a lot of money to solve the problem of youth unemployment with vast contributions from the government and aids organizations.
According to a recent World Bank report, unemployment in Zanzibar remains a major problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
The report says the overall unemployment problem has reached 7.5 percent in rural areas and 23.3 percent in the urban areas particularly among the youth with low level of education.
The report says that only 44.9 percent of the adult population is in the workforce and that most labour force is located in the urban areas.
It notes that the population has grown slightly to reach at least half (56.6%) of the total population.
According to the report, in 2014 an estimated 616,000 people had entered the labour force, 160,000 were unemployed and 62 percent were in college and universities.
The report further notes that the problem is biggest in Unguja Urban West Region at 23.3 percent, North Unguja 10.1 percent, North Pemba 7.9 percent, South Pemba 6.9 percent and South Unguja 3.9 percent.
The Zanzibar based Milele Foundation and Actionaid are among the organizations that are actively engaged in various activities to solve unemployment problem among the isles youth.
Actionaid recently held a forum that brought together the youth, public and private institutions and development partners to discuss the problem to get solution.
Forum participants observed that many Isles youth face the problem because they were not aware of the existence of self-employment opportunities instead they were always looking for jobs from the government.
They also noted that youth are lazy and when they are hired they are not diligent and skillful.
Flaviawa Felician Minde from the private sector said most of the youth missed employment opportunities because they were not aware of their existence but they were also not creative.
She urged the government and organizations to provide basic employment education to the youth to develop a sense of self-employment among them.
Youth Department Director, Shaib Ibrahim Mohammed, urged private institutions and development partners to provide vocational training for the youth.
“It is good for the young people to get working tools and relevant skills that will help them in the job market,” he said.
Actionaid Zanzibar Coordinator, Bakar Khamis Bakar, said they decided to hold the forum to identify the problems that hinder the young people to find employment.
He said youth were being introduced in various development activities for them to become self-employed but they fail do so despite the existence of many opportunities.
Hassan Jani Masoud commended Actionaid for its contribution that shows the way to development and self-employment.
According to the ILO recent report, of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third is unemployed and discouraged, another third is vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment.
Youth face roughly doubles the unemployment rate of adults, with significant variation by country.
The report notes that the problem is not just unemployment but underemployment, which peaks at just over half of youth in the labor force in low-income countries.
In Sub Saharan Africa, the data compiled by a range of organizations in recent years paint an extremely bleak picture. At present, of the estimated 296.9 million people aged 10-24 in the region, fewer than 50 percent are employed in the formal economy. Some countries, such as Mozambique and Ghana, have youth unemployment/underemployment rates as high as 80 percent.
The growing concern, however, is that despite presently being the most youthful area of the world, sub-Saharan Africa is on course to become even younger due to its high fertility rate, the number of youth inhabiting the region, as a proportion of the population, is projected to exceed 75 percent by 2015. The region will be home to nearly one-quarter of the world’s young people by 2025.
The ILO recent report noted that one billion people around the world, approximately 30% of the entire global workforce is unemployed or underemployed in industrialized and developing countries
The report indicates that in the world’s wealthiest nations, at least 34 million people are unemployed in the member states of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development,
In the European Union, unemployment increased last year to an average of 11.3 percent of the workforce, with France, Germany, Italy and Sweden registering significant increases.
In the United States, on the other hand, job creation has intensified and unemployment has dipped below 5 percent.
Unemployment rates have also declined in the United Kingdom. In both countries, however, income disparities have tended to widen.
Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment.
Situation on the ground
It is estimated that the systems churn out between 600,000 and 800,000 graduates every year. These include university graduates graduating from tertiary and technical institutions, against available 50,000 job vacancies. Some stay as long as three years waiting for formal employment.
However, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its report titled ‘2019: Tanzania in Figures’ of June 2020, shows that the unemployment level went down from 10.1 in 2015 to 9.6 in 2019.
The report further says that the number of people employed has shot up from 20.5 to 22.5 million.
Party manifestos and unemployment
Chadema quotes a report from the Office of the Prime Minister of 2015/2016 saying there are 16.2 million youths: about 35.5 percent of total population. The party then came up with nine solutions to tackle unemployment.
Among them is creating an enabling environment by establishing work-oriented curriculums in all schools to foster self-employment initiatives.
The party also says that it will establish commercial farming, irrigation and construction of processing industries.
Also, the party states it is important to have credible database of the youth and their skills. They went on to further highlight the creation of legal framework requiring all financial institutions to offer affordable loans to enable capital creation and subsequent production.
The party sees as the panacea for employment the engagement of youth in cooperative-like movements and training of youth and women.
CCM, through its manifesto, envisages creation of programs to boost the economic statuses of women, youth and people with disabilities to employ themselves and create jobs for others.
The CCM government plans to start institutions that will create an enabling environment for youth who graduate from institutions of higher learning and tertiary colleges.
The party says it will specifically focus on land entrepreneurial education. Further adding that it plans to create employment for 8 million people.
ACT-Wazalendo, on the other hand, has promised the creation of 10 million jobs that will add a value chain to five million more people in the next five years.
What pundits say
Dr Richard Mbunda, a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam and a political analyst, says the youth cannot be ignored in this Election Year.
“Basically, all the parties have tried to explain to the electorate how they will solve the problem of youth unemployment. ACT-Wazalendo has put youth unemployment as its top priority,” he says.
“Chadema has also done well on pages 46-48 of their manifesto. But, if you read CCM’s manifesto – on pages 20-22 – you will see that CCM’s plan is more beneficial,” he adds.
“CCM has the upper hand since it has been tried and tested through implementation of some of the projects promised in previous manifestos, including soft loans and development of the informal sector,” he says.
Noting that the elections will be stiff, he says the political parties will have a lot on their hands.
A High Court advocate, Frank Robert, says there is a serious unemployment problem caused by population increase, poor performance in some economic sectors, and other factors.
“Despite politicians’ claims that there is an increase in employment, youth unemployment is rife.
“The kind of education provided is not commensurate with the needs for self-employment. Today, even those trained at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) are unemployed because of lack of capital,” Frank says.
There are lapses in the agriculture sector and its value chain.
“In my opinion, the government should concentrate on agriculture and animal husbandry. Many youths have ventured into agriculture -but failed just as soon. There are no friendly policies in place,” he adds.
Anna Swai, a graduate in Business Administration, says the unemployment problem is dire – and that there is usually no capital to enable the youth to employ themselves.
According to Anna – who is self-employed – the government should come up with viable solutions.
Lilian Lyimo, a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, says the government should focus on entrepreneurial training.
Peter Mmbado, a Dar es Salaam resident, says that although he has not perused other parties’ manifestos, CCM’s manifesto offers only lip service on employment, as it have done nothing tangible about it.