Mozambique’s economic growth is on the road to recovery—4.3per cent by 2021, according to the World Bank. While improvements are to be celebrated, the country’s economic performance hasn’t been matched with improved employment rates. Around 20.7 per cent of Mozambique’s 28 million people are unemployed—according to the National Institute of Statistics—and many, especially vulnerable groups and those living in rural areas, struggle to find the money for food, shelter, education and health.
It’s a situation the Mozambican Government is transforming, including through its National Employment policy. One innovation driving the policy forward is MozTrabalha, a five-year project that supports the government and International Labour Organization (ILO) to create more and better jobs for all Mozambicans. The project has brought together public and private sector stakeholders to provide labour market data for analysis. The project has two components; one aiming to promote change at policy level and the other working at micro-level.
As ILO’s National Project Coordinator for Studies, Statistics and Gender, Egidio Simbine says, MozTrabalha is about decent work for sustainable and inclusive economic transformation.
‘Mozambique is striving to make significant changes and create a significant number of jobs,’ he says.
Underpinning the project is a new online labour market information website (http://www.dnomt.gov.mz/mlmis/), a major achievement in Egidio’s career. In performing his work on MozTrabalha and the website, Egidio has relied on the skills and knowledge he built while completing his Master of Public Policy and Management, University of Melbourne (2016). As an Australia Awards alumnus, Egidio says studying stimulated his thinking on the root causes of unemployment.
‘I learned how important well-developed labour market policies are to solving unemployment,’ he says. ‘I learned why data is needed to develop an evidence base and about the power of analytical tools.’
The soft skills Egidio picked up, in Australia, have been invaluable in negotiating with the many players involved in the website development and in lobbying for and negotiating funds for the project.
Developing the statistics-based website for the ILO’s National Directorate of Labour Market Observation was no easy feat. Egidio was involved from the concept design stage to final implementation.
The website is up and running, providing timely and reliable data at both national and local levels, which is key to generating jobs, including in sectors identified as having high potential like construction, tourism and cashew nuts.
‘We’re pulling statistics from many sources and integrating them into one place,’ he says. ‘The result is detailed information that backs the development of employment policies and programs. Now, the government can look at trends, benchmarks and targets to help those who need it most.’
Egidio says the website is worth its weight in gold.
‘It’s informing many development issues, including youth unemployment which sits at about 8 per cent in rural areas and 36 per cent in urban areas. Some say our underemployment rate is as high as 80 per cent,’ he asserts. ‘The data is helping reverse this.’
The website includes data on three modules—social, education and labour, including employment rate and vacancies.
The integrated data has already informed planning and budgeting for the next government cycle. It’s also being used by two provinces to inform evidence-based policies and create more jobs.
In managing overall project development with MozTrabalha, Egidio collaborated with experts in government and other organisations, including the National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Labour, Employment and Social Security, and Labour Market Observation.
For Egidio, a major takeaway from the Australia Awards was learning to think about the big picture, be open-minded and reinvent according to context. As part of his Australia Awards program, Egidio developed a Reintegration Action Plan (RAP) which he used to apply learnings back home.
Developing a RAP helped Egidio think strategically about how to generate employment opportunities and work through unemployment-related problems.
‘The growth in Mozambique’s economy has largely been driven by a boom in the extractives industry and mega projects related to infrastructure,’ he says. ‘Projects like this will go a long way to achieving much greater economic inclusion, which is what we need.’
Photo Credit: Egidio Simbine
Feature from Alumni News Volume 28.