Burundi, World Bank signs $80 million grant to empower youth

Burundi and the World Bank Group early this week approved funding of $ 80 million. PHOTO|FILE.

Burundi and the World Bank Group early this week approved funding of $ 80 million for the Skills for Employment Project of Women and Youth in Burundi (Burundi Skills4Jobs). The project aims to improve access to training and labor market relevance of skills development programs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

According to the authorities the fund will target women and young people, including refugees in efforts to boost entrepreneurship and innovative skills.

“Now that the minister have signed the agreement with the world bank representative its now waiting for the parliament to ratify so as it can get into force,” a source from the World Bank told Burundi Times.

The project design emphasizes innovative skills relevant to the modern world, to help women and young people meet the changing needs of the world of work and the digital economy. The number of direct beneficiaries is estimated at 120,000 over the duration of the project, including 16,000 refugees.

“The Skills for Employment Project for Women and Youth in Burundi is the first in a series of projects to support job creation for women and youth, with an emphasis on digital skills. It supports activities that will prepare them for the new labor market,” said Jean Christophe Carret the World Bank Director of Operations for Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and São Tomé and Principe.

According to the World Bank the project will lay the foundations for digital skills and invest in learning and entrepreneurship while building partnerships with the private sector.

“It will also support the creation of a new Institute of Computer Science / Computer Engineering and Digital Transformation, attached to the University of Burundi in partnership with world-renowned universities. This initiative represents an innovative shift in the design and delivery of relevant employability skills for years to come,” a communique reads from the World Bank.

This comes as youth in Burundi makeup the biggest percentage of the country’s population, with the fact that majority of them remain unemployed.

In April last year, Burundi’s former president late Pierre Nkurunziza officially launched a Youth Investment Bank (BIJE) with the aim of fighting Youth unemployment in the country through providing loans and funds to youth cooperatives and associations’ country wide.

The youth investment bank (BIJE) was launched with an estimated capital of 10 billion Bif (USD 5.3 million). Among which 15% share is owned by the government and 85% owned by communes.

According to demographic research, Burundian population gravitates around 12 million in which 65% are youths, the same percentage is the most hit by unemployment. 

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