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Youths demand peace, jobs ahead of Congo presidential poll

todayDecember 14, 2023 49

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Gedeon, 22, driving his auto-rickshaw through the bustling streets of DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, said he never imagined he would end up doing the job he does.

Like many young people in the deeply impoverished central African nation, he said he had high hopes that the government can deliver a better future.

“I want to go back to school,” said Gedeon, who has worked as a rickshaw driver for five years.

He wants to become an electrical engineer, he explained, but poverty stopped him from attending university.

Voters are due to go to the polls on December 20 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Felix Tshisekedi, 60, is running for re-election.

Young people — many of whom suffer from chronic underemployment — make up an important voting bloc. Over 60 percent of the country’s 100 million people are under 20 years old.

AFP interviewed several young Congolese people ahead of the vote, with most asking for a return to peace in the conflict-torn country – and jobs.

Raphael Rubangiza, 18, linked the upcoming vote to hopes for a better job market.

He said that voting “competent people” into office would mean “we’ll have opportunities, we’ll have jobs”.

But Rubangiza, who studies civil engineering in Kinshasa, is under few illusions. Many graduates “end up selling phone credits,” he said.

The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite its vast mineral wealth. About two-thirds of the population survive on under $2.15 per day, according to the World Bank.

The major candidates for the presidential election have all pledged to deliver more jobs. Tshisekedi has promised to create 6.4 million new jobs if he wins a second term.

– Promises –

Precise figures are hard to come by, but unemployment is believed to be rampant. Valery Madianga, a researcher at a Kinshasa-based think tank, estimated the youth unemployment rate at about 70 percent.

Written by: EaglesFM

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