Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has said the high level of youth unemployment is not only a Ugandan problem.
It is a leading global issue, he said, whose eradication necessitates stronger partnerships between Governments and the private sector, sustained macro-economic stability and an enabling environment for investments that contributes to productive employment creation.
Mbabazi said Uganda has an extremely young population which is a critical challenge if deliberate measures are not fast-tracked to address unemployment, citing the Uganda Bureau of Statistics figures, 2012 which place 32% of an estimated 6.5 million youth in the jobless category, while 2 million are under-employed.
In spite of Government’s efforts to provide education and training at various levels for our large and fast growing youthful labour force, Mbabazi said the country continues to experience major deficits in the supply of skilled human resources.
He said Uganda is now faced with a paradox of many graduates on one hand and shortage of skilled labour on the other.
The global youth unemployment rate is projected to be at 12.6% by 2013 with 73 million young people unemployed.
The Premier said the employed youth are also faced with the challenge of working poverty which, in the global context, is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at 40.1 per cent in 2012, at the US$1.25 per day level and this is mirrored in Uganda’s youth.
Mbabazi made the remarks while delivering a key note address at the 11th Annual International Convention for the Banyakigezi (ICOB) on Friday, in Washington DC, USA.
The four-day convention was organized under the theme: Promoting Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Youth Employment.
Mbabazi hailed the Banyakigezi fete for promoting unity, cultural and socio-economic development of their community at home and in the diaspora, harnessing collective efforts for wealth creation and development.
He said Government is cognizant of the serious social consequences of high youth unemployment including increased crime rates, drug usage, social and political strife and unmitigated violence. Mbabazi remarked that Government has started a number of interventions to support the youth to become self-reliant and productive.
He said these interventions include improvement of practical skills through the Skilling Uganda Programme, the student loan scheme which promotes the increase of scientific knowledge and technical skills among the youth, the youth livelihood programme and the introduction of ICT Incubation centers that are aimed at encouraging innovation.
Mbabazi said Uganda has enjoyed remarkable economic growth under the National Resistance Movement, adding that the economy has grown at an impressive average of 6.5% over the past 28 years.
“The size of the Ugandan economy is now projected to be sh63.3 trillion, which is about $25.3b, by the end of this fiscal year 2014/2015. This progress has been made in the face of significant structural bottlenecks in terms of limited energy and transportation infrastructure,” Mbabazi said.
He said the East African Community market is now over $ 79.2b and the COMESA market is even bigger at US $ 497bn,adding that this is the kind of opportunity that regional integration creates.
“We must therefore build requisite entrepreneurial capacities to seize these opportunities. If we do not do this, our brothers and sisters in the region will do so at our expense,” said Mbabazi stressing that we have to be streetwise in leveraging the opportunities of this real integration process.
He revealed that the President is later this month slated to launch a huge industrial complex for the production of phosphates and steel in Tororo district.
Other presenters at meeting included the current president of the Uganda North America Association, Brian Kwesiga and Jackson Kaguri, the proprietor of The Nyaka Project, a large charitable organization based in Kanungu district.