Tanzania is a young country, with over 60 per cent of its population under the age of 35. This means the youth have a significant stake in the country’s future. However, many face myriad challenges, the biggest being unemployment, which stands at 11.5 per cent.
The government is responsible for investing in its youth and creating opportunities for them to succeed.
This includes providing quality education and training, creating jobs, and investing in infrastructure and social services. By courting the youth, the government can ensure that Tanzania’s future is bright.
Tanzania’s population as of 2022 is around 61,741,120, census data show. Of this number, 30,257,196 are under the age of 18 and 51,569,607 are between the ages of 0 and 35. This means that young people make up the majority of the population.
The youth are the future of Tanzania. They are the ones who will be driving the country’s economy and society in the years to come. Therefore, the government must invest in them and provide them with the opportunities they need to succeed.
However, I feel like the youths are not given the attention they deserve, which is reflected by politicians’ statements at various times, which victimise young people by telling them they should stop waiting for government employment and instead employ themselves.
Those voices have been so prevalent recently that they’ve become annoying to the ears of many young people as each and every politician when discussing issues pertaining to youth’s future in Tanzania, will repeat the self-employment mantra like a parrot.
“I was watching TV yesterday, or the day before yesterday, and Tanzanians were being interviewed about employment,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan remarked recently.
“Every person interviewed ended by saying that the government should create jobs,” she continued. “I want to tell you that the government’s job is not to create jobs but to create a good environment for you to use to create jobs.”
“We are doing that work well enough,” the Tanzanian leader added. “Please, create jobs using the environment that exists.”
It was not the first time the Head of State made such a call.
The sentiment that young people should create employment for themselves instead of relying on the government is not new. I agree with the politicians that the government should create a positive environment for job creation.
Issues to consider
However, there a several issues to consider while reflecting on their calls for the country’s young people to create employment instead of waiting for government employment.
One is the fact that President Samia’s own party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), promised young people that it’d provide them with jobs while campaigning during the 2020 elections. I can almost guarantee that they will make the same promise in 2025.
So, my question to the leadership is this: why do you promise specific numbers of jobs during election campaigns but then wash your hands off the issue after you are elected? Why don’t you simply outline how you will create a business-friendly environment instead of making unrealistic promises?
President Samia says the government has already created a conducive environment for young people to create employment. I would argue that this is true in theory but not in practice.
There is still a lot of red tape involved in starting a business; financial institutions claim to support youth entrepreneurship but often do not, and it is still difficult for young people to raise capital.
Entrepreneurship is a skill
It is also very important to remember that entrepreneurship is a skill. It is not something that everyone is born with. Many young people want to start their own businesses but lack the necessary skills.
If the government’s policy encourages young people to create employment, why is this not reflected in the educational system? Why are students not being taught entrepreneurship, taxation, and financial literacy?
All these call for the government to to invest heavily in education and training, create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, promote decent work in the informal economy, address the gender gap in employment, and empower young people.
Let me end by saying that the reality is that telling young people to create employment without providing them with the necessary skills and support is like throwing them into the ocean without a life jacket.
Sure, a few will manage to swim, but the majority will sink. And then their elected officials will call them lazy!
Thomas Joel Kibwana is an international relations and business development expert. He is available at email@example.com or on X (Twitter) as @tkibwana. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for further inquiries.