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Massive youth unemployment in Sudan

October 5 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Graduated students in Sudan are forced to drive minibuses or do odd jobs because 'real' work is not available (RD correspondent)
Graduated students in Sudan are forced to drive minibuses or do odd jobs because 'real' work is not available (RD correspondent)

According to economic analyst and former banker Hafiz Ismail the unemployment rate among young people and graduates in Sudan has been between 80 to 90 per cent during the last ten years.

Ismail attributed the massive unemployment among young people and graduates to the economic crisis that the country has been going through in the last decades, and to the former regime’s educational and employment policies based on ‘empowerment*’.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga’s Gadaya El Shabab (Youth Issues) programme to be broadcast today, Ismail said that most of the graduates do not find their way to jobs in the private and the public sector. “Many of them resort to construction work, blacksmithing, or driving rickshaws and minibuses.” The federal Employment Committee and its branches in the states provide work for less than one per cent of all university graduates, he calculated.

A lack of economic growth has limited the creation of jobs for graduates. Also, many specialisations at the universities teach students skills and knowledge that are not needed on the labour market. “This is a huge waste of human resources.” Ismail called on the government to reconsider its educational policies. The current policy, that the government inherited from the Al Bashir regime, is “not based on macroeconomic policy”.

Unemployment among young people is deteriorating faster in Sudan than in any other place in the world”, Ismail said. “Young people do not see any future in Sudan and risk their lives trying to reach Europe illegally by crossing the Mediterranean, or resort to all kinds of crime.”

He called on the government to attract foreign investment, and train graduates in what the country's economy needs. “More efficiency is needed if Sudan is to meet the conditions that the World Bank will impose on the country,” he said. 

The agricultural sector in Sudan, which employs about 80 per cent of Sudanese, needs an agricultural policy as well.

The immediate future for university graduates looks bleak.

“Most of us spend years looking for work without finding it”, Manahil Nikola, an English literature graduate told Radio Dabanga from Delling in South Kordofan. “Our diplomas are hanging on the walls of our homes without doing us any good.”

“The few employment opportunities announced are being contested by tens of thousands of graduates,” she said. “And we know that they are only announced for the purpose of information, as they have often already been distributed to relatives of people working there.”

Nikola holds the federal government responsible for the massive youth unemployment. She demands the establishment of “large projects in various regions of the country, which can employ the unemployed graduates and other youth”.


*Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its followers by granting them far-going privileges, including jobs in government functions and various companies set up by high-level affiliates.

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