East African Institute
Rwanda is youthful country. The median age is estimated as 19 years, and about 78 % of the population is below the age of 35 years.
Rwanda’s youth, defined as individuals between the ages of 14 and 35, are a critical majority and will determine and shape the country’s future. With that in mind, the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University commissioned a survey to understand the values, attitudes, concerns and aspirations of this critical segment of the population.
We interviewed 1,1336 respondents aged 18–35 years from across the country, including both urban and rural areas. The survey reveals a number of important and sometimes surprising insights, and offers reasons both for optimism, deep concern and the need for urgent action.
There is a strong sense of patriotism among Rwandan youth, with 44% identifying themselves as Rwandans first. They value faith, family and hard work. The youth are entrepreneurial, with the majority aspiring to start their own business, rather than pursue careers in law, teaching, medicine or engineering. Although agriculture is one of the leading sectors in Rwanda – accounting for 35% of the GDP, only 5% of the youth were interested in farming as an occupation.
The study reveals that while youth are suffering from and concerned about unemployment, they are willing to be part of the solution by creating jobs through entrepreneurship. The study also reveals that while the youth hold positive values, and believe political participation is critical civic duty, 60% of the youth are vulnerable to electoral fraud, which could undermine governance and accountability. While the findings may seem contradictory – hopeful and depressing – there is an opportunity to focus on developing and channeling the strongly held positive values of faith, family, hard work. The strongly held values of hard work and entrepreneurship, as well as impressive GDP growth must be leveraged to address the challenge of unemployment, especially among university-educated youth.
Overall, Rwandan youth are positive and optimistic about the future and are confident that it will be more prosperous, offering more jobs and better access to health and education. But what will it take to deliver opportunity and shared prosperity for the youth?
(2016). The Rwanda Youth Survey Report.
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/eastafrica_eai/22