The 2015 Economic Report on Africa by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) put Tanzania’s unemployment rate at 10.3 percent. It also reported that the number of unemployed women in the country is higher than that of unemployed men.
But there are a number of ways in which we can boost job opportunities for youth in Tanzania.
Investment in agriculture:
People around the world need to eat, and agro-industries need raw materials. If youth were to engage in modern farming—and produce high quality food and cash crops—these could be sold anywhere around the globe. There is also potential for providing more opportunities by encouraging the diversification of our crop varieties. Tanzania is big importer of apples from South Africa while there are areas of the country where these can be produced locally.
Youth can be encouraged to venture into such crops, since clearly there’s a good market that already exists for them.
Construction of industries:
If more youth engage in agriculture, automatically there will be raw materials to support light manufacturing locally. Industries can employ many youth at different stages, from collecting raw materials to processing, packaging, and selling of the finished goods. Industries can employ the educated and semi-educated, and these industries can be established by youth themselves, or by any investor who will in turn employ local youth.
In this regard, the opportunities for investment are aplenty—in food processing, leather processing and tanning, timber, and many others.
For industries to produce high quality products more youth should be encouraged to attend vocational training. There are two advantages of vocational training: (a) youth can be employed in the industries since these always need more technical staff and; (b) youth can employ themselves by opening small workshops dealing in furniture, welding and so on, where they can keep busy while nurturing their dreams of becoming a bigger enterprise.
Our neighboring countries have been purchasing agricultural products from Tanzania, not only for their consumption and for selling on their local food markets, but also for onward exportation to other countries—in Europe. Tanzanian youth should be facilitated to exploit this opportunity for selling products abroad, where they would get more value for locally made leather sandals and cotton products, for example, as well as for vegetables like onions.
Promotion of the tourism sector:
This sector employs more than 400,000 Tanzanians directly in different capacities, such as tour guides, drivers, waiters, cooks, and receptionists. It can take in more youth if the full range of our tourism potential in the north and south of the country is exploited and promoted. As more tourists come, they will spend more on local services and products, which can then engage even more local youth.
The role of government:
It is true that youth have the biggest role to play in solving the problem of unemployment but we cannot deny the role the government plays. The government should create friendly business environments for youth. It could offer tax holidays and access to loans to help them develop and expand their businesses. Entrepreneurial competitions should be introduced, from secondary school to university, to build a sense of enterprise in the younger generation. Government also needs to take reasonable measures to protect local businesses.
Charles Kapondo, 27, is doing an MBA at the University of Dar es Salaam. As one of two finalists in the Blog4Dev Tanzania essay competition, he has won a trip to the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC. “I see this trip as an opportunity to meet other innovative young people and exchange ideas,” he said.
You can read the blogs of our other winners: