Uganda just like other African countries has a high percentage of youth under 35 years (77%)
President Yoweri Museveni has said that his umbilical cord with the youth in the country is cemented in iron and stone and no one can destroy it.
This was contained in his speech conveyed by the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda during the inauguration of the two-day international Muslim youth conference at Pearl of Africa Hotel on Friday.
Over 200 delegates from across the globe graced the occasion. Also members from other religious denomination like Rev. Fr. Joseph Luzindana and Joshua Kitakule of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda embraced the meeting.
“When we came into power in 1986, we established structures to facilitate youth participation at all levels of governance to ensure maximum youth engagement on all issues that concern our country because the young people played a fundamental role in the liberation of our people,” Museveni said.
He implored the Muslim youth to nurture the principle of peaceful co-existence and love for each other regardless of their background, religion, tribe and political affiliations.
“I want to remind you the Muslim youth that peace and security do not come by accident but it is a result of scientific and progressive well-intended calculations and strategies,” he said.
Museveni disclosed that the government has embarked on the promotion of youth entrepreneurship as one of the avenues for wealth creation, noting that there is great potential to benefit from investment in youth business enterprises.
“We have embarked on the process of setting up youth owned manufacturing industries that will allow the production of finished products as opposed to selling goods in raw form because it is no longer acceptable and we cannot tolerate it,” he noted.
Museveni opined that to overcome the bottleneck of youth unemployment, all African countries must identify areas that can most benefit their economies and empower the youth to take advantage of them at an early stage by, for example, financing their education which can spearhead innovation and discoveries.
“I want to see a youth population that is not simply focused on trivialities but on fundamentals, anchored in the national development planning frameworks and our vision 2040,” Museveni said.
He noted that Uganda just like other African countries has a high percentage of youth under 35 years (77%), which he said is a great advantage and resource which many European countries do not have and that it should be used to enhance the labour and productivity of African countries.
He tasked the National Youth Council to come up with innovative ideas during their deliberations to change the mindset of the young people such that they are not simply agitators, noting that wealth and money must be earned and not simply claimed.
“I want young people to transform from being guzzlers of wealth to being producers of wealth and agents of social, economic and political transformation,” he said.
Museveni observed that human resource is the most important factor in the social, economic and political transformation of societies which explains why the government has heavily invested in education and skilling programs for the youth.
“Education and improved healthcare have meant that average life expectancy has grown from 43 to 63 years and adult literacy rate has gone from 56% in 1991 to 75%. Many youths can now read and write, they have mastered numeracy and can use the internet,” Museveni noted.
He, however, observed that the youth only need more skills in the areas of agriculture, metalwork, construction, ceramics, motor-mechanics, computer and ideological liberation to develop, which the government has also embarked on.
“During my years of struggle to emancipate Ugandans from bondage, I have cherished the principle of a people-centred development and an asset-based approach to youth programming,” he said.
In his own remarks, Rugunda commended the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Ramadhan Mubajje, as the chairman of the Inter-Religious Council for the idea of a national dialogue and assured him of the government’s support.
Mubajje said unlike in the past, Muslims have learnt to live together with members of other religious denominations.
He commended the NRM for upholding the freedom of worship and association in the country and prayed to God to protect Museveni.
Mubajje disclosed that Uganda was selected to host the International Muslim Youth Conference because it acts as a model to other countries in terms of religious tolerance.
Dr Mohamed Bechari, the secretary general of World Muslim Communities’ Council based in the United Arab Emirates said the objective of the conference is to create a strategy that fights against the radicalisation of youth in Africa.