By Moses Okoed
Unemployment rate in Uganda increased to 4.2% in 2010 from 1.9% in 2007. Uganda’s unemployment rate averaged 3.20% from 2003 until 2010, reaching an all time high of 4.2% in December of 2010 and a record low of 1.9% in December of 2007.
In Uganda, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force.
In a study which was released by Action Aid International Uganda, Uganda National NGO Forum and Development Research and Training (DRT) titled; “Lost Opportunity” notes that the high unemployment rate among the youth poses a serious threat to the well-being of society.
The report also indicates that, the majority of the youth out of school have no regular work or income and 61.6% of the youth talked to during the study were not in any form of employment, majority of whom were in urban centres,” the report notes.
A new report indicates that 62% of Uganda’s youth are jobless. It further shows that 12% of all youth in Uganda aged between 12-30 are chronically poor with higher poverty rates among 12-17 years olds as compared to the 18-30 years old. The matter that is supported by the World Bank 2012 statistics that show that Uganda has the youngest population in the world at 83%.
The Government of Uganda has set a side sh265b to support the youth livelihood activities and signed an agreement with Development Finance of Uganda (DFCU) bank, Stanbic Bank and Centenary Rural Development Bank.
With an intension of supporting the growth of business ventures owned by the youth aged between 18 and 35 years and help create jobs for young people. The fund is expected to focus on improving the competitiveness of the business environment to enable the private sector to play a dominant role for employment generation, which will be enforced by vocational training.
It will be used to support viable and sustainable small and medium-sized enterprises across the country because they comprise over 90% of the private sector. They contribute to employment creation, provision of basic goods and services and the generation of tax revenues.
It is not clear whether the Government’s plan for the unemployed youth targets the skilled graduates, uneducated, low-skilled youth or all. Every year, universities in Uganda continue to pass out graduates to the job market but very few can be absorbed into formal employment.
This means there is a huge number of unemployed skilled work force. However, millions of youth in this country are of low skill, and low education. Giving the fund to the youth is indeed very good but it will never be the solution to pull them out of poverty but rather give them the skills and support them with the necessary inputs to support their skills and this will ensure the sustainability of their projects.
First and foremost, the Government should carry out massive sensitisation on the youth fund because this matter is only heard of in urban areas and the question remains on what now happens to the rural youth who do not have the information on how to access the fund?.
There is need for the Government to promote a conducive investment climate where the Government must enable investors to focus on the long-term plans without the fear of losing their investments. This is what creates jobs for the local skilled labour force.
There is also need for financial sector growth and stability banks should be able to give out loans, focusing on key sectors of the economy such as the, agriculture and technology.
Uganda should take action and put in strategies to fight the high rates of unemployment, because if we do not engage our youth to be able to sustain themselves, then Uganda is bound to experience a number of social ills and some among others may include insecurity since the youths who have a lot of energies have nowhere to utilise it, and there will be increased crime leading to the instability and loss of political trust for their country.
This therefore, calls for urgent intervention to plan for idle youth population who are likely to become problem to the country’s security.
The writer is a programme assistant