By Nedinani Katamu
The media has reported a group of youths launched a countrywide campaign in which, they will register all the unemployed youths in Uganda to demand that Government create jobs for them, under their umbrella organization called the National Association of the Unemployed.
This shortly after President Museveni launched a youth livelihood programme aimed at solving unemployment in the country by setting aside a fund of Shs265 billion, to be given to unemployed youth as soft loans to start enterprises.
The repayment of the loan is expected to come from the profits of the enterprises.
In an Economy like Uganda where government’s plan for the unemployed youth remains ambiguous without specifying whether it targets the skilled graduates, uneducated, low-skilled youth or all, and with universities producing thousands of graduates to the job market with very few being absorbed into formal employment each year, creates a huge number of unemployed skilled work forces, this added to millions of youth who are of low skill, and lack education making the risk worse.
The President’s strategy of the youth fund is, therefore, an ink drop in the ocean in terms of creating jobs and solving unemployment. This call for other structural strategies and interventions that the government needs to focus on to tackle youth unemployment in a meaningful and sustainable way.
There is need for the government to promote and sustain a conducive investment climate which guarantees investors to focus on the long-term plans without the fear of losing their investments, in case of change of government. This is what creates jobs for the local skilled labour force.
The recent closure of the National bank of commerce and Global trust bank point strongly to need to strive for financial sector growth and stability. The stable banks should be able to give out loans, focusing on key sectors of the economy such as the energy sector, agriculture and technology.
In fact the need for cheap financing in the agro-processing sector from such well established stable financial sector is urgently called for since agriculture is the single biggest sector employing Ugandans.
Agro-processing firms will absorb a huge skilled workforce to run them. Authorities wishing no know how agriculture and agro-processing can create employment and improve the livelihood of the low skilled youth should go the southwestern district of Kanungu, where a single crop - tea - is changing lives of many unemployed low skilled population.
The district has three tea processing factories which have increased the demand for green tea leaves, forcing the rural populations to open up hundreds of acres of tea farms. The youth who are employed to pick the tea from the gardens are definitely living above the poverty line.
The laborers who pick tea leaves are paid an average of Shs125-200 per kg. In a day, someone who has gained skills in picking tea can pick a minimum of 100-120 kg this translates to a monthly income of Shs325,000- 520, 000, assuming the laborer has chosen to work for only 26 days in a month and rest for four days.
This is good money that, if invested in other money-generating ventures, can greatly improve living standards of communities.
The Ministry of ICT needs embrace a broader approach in capacity and skills development by helping national partners to design strategies, build systems, implementation planning and training of personnel for productivity enhancement, say banking on an emerging technology sector.
The Internet and its benefits could be an open window to the elusive jobs. The world has become a single global village. The skilled but unemployed youth need to be supported to harness the benefits in the technology sector, specifically the use of strategic plans to channel this knowledge into a commodity that can be sold.
Borrow a leaf from, Rwanda, South Africa where the booming technology sector is becoming a huge service export, especially to the emerging markets in the Sub-Saharan Africa that need software solutions.
Most software banking solutions used by different banks are imported from India and South Africa. Some Ugandan banks outsource their ICT issues from S. Africa.
Hundreds of youth are busy solving and resolving bank queries happening other countries, in the comfort of their seats from their respective ICT offices
The writer is a journalist