Now that Uganda’s estimated population is over 34.9 and with so much likelihood that the population will further increase, Uganda needs to invest so much.
By Akampa R. Johnson Tanbull
Now that Uganda’s estimated population is over 34.9 and with so much likelihood that the population will further increase to more than 45 million people in the next five to 10 years, Uganda needs to invest so much in its population rather than control it. It is possible to have much more productive citizens who are so fertile at the same time.
Take a look at China’s population, this has not stopped it from becoming a leader in world’s economy, a threat to United States of America.
Let the Government of Uganda invest in young people and not look at them as a problem that needs to be solved rather as fundamental resources and asset worth investing in.
Well, in the recent past months, different organisations and agencies like Vision Group and partners have organised YIYA Sente, Pakasa Forum, and Youth Advocacy Foundation Uganda’s Annual Skills Development Expo, UN’s Youth Hub, European Union’s and ILO’s Youth Entrepreneurship Facility among other sense speaking and inspiring forums where young people get to meet leaders from the Civil Society, Private Sector, Government, International development agencies so they are able to learn, network, share and unlearn.
They are expected to OBSERVE, EXPERIENCE and INNOVATE, yes, we are hopeful that those who turn up for such forums go back differently from the way they come, we had numbers and yes speakers and keynote addresses were shared so that young people are able to have their mindsets nurtured and transformed as well give room to shape character and be a better person in the community or Uganda and the world at large in position to be the change and live that change they want to see.
The topics were rotating around major issues and challenges that youth are facing especially here in Uganda, rampant unemployment, HIV, Entrepreneurship…
Questions were; should youth be supported to be the change they want to be? Who is to support them anyway? Why should they be supported? What is the role of youth in development? In fighting corruption? In finding solutions to unemployment??...Yes, in Uganda Street demonstrations have become the order of the day and we are yet to see more and more unless youth are made top on the Agenda and holistically engaged in productivity and mind set forums.
Different people are and will continue taking advantage of the youth situation in Uganda, till the Government realizes that finding solutions to youth issues is not just an option but a fundamental priority.
Reasons are that, yes, young people are the majority of the population, majority are now graduates who can critically analyse issues and will not be fed on lies forever and they will reach at time and demand for accountability from their leaders after all they will have done it all and seen it all.
The recent world bank reports indicate that in 10 years to come, over seven million Ugandans will be unemployed and this is a negative signal to Uganda’s Government, meaning we shall be having more dependents, more wasted or underutilised labour force, more resources will be encroached on, more peasants since majority of parents are selling the little they have to send their children to School…
Whereas it is true that the Government has done well in developing infrastructure like roads and tried to extend the internet broad band fiber cable to every district, which I believe is a youth infrastructure, whether the objectives have been achieved or not, the fact is that this infrastructure is still being looked as an elephant in the wilderness!!, some of these amazing programs targeting the public especially youth have not been popularized by the concerned Government officials themselves and the Civil society which is supposed to play a complementary role in development has largely played an opposition role.
Condemning even what intends to benefit the citizens has been the order of the day yet as partners in development Civil society is expected to credit what has been achieved by the NRM Government and show where gaps are in order to improve that would be the constructive critic and by doing so, we are attracting more people to benefit from the available resources.
Government has also looked as Civil society more of donor aid recipients not largely as a partner, the International development partners have also been perceived as aid and grant givers with no value for money expectations but largely strings attached grants to further their hidden agendas and interests.
This is the current situation in Uganda and yet all the parties are supposed to work together, bring the private sector on board for Uganda’s collective sustainable development.
However if the Civil society, development agencies appeal for constructive partnership then we are more likely to see Government coming out to directly support us a partners in development and where civil society is short, Let the Government not just look at Civil society as just donor aided but rather as partners worth engaging for better Development.
One of the reasons we see more and more unemployed youth is lack of cooperation and holistic constructive ideas and as youth we must also woken up our eyes, we must not be blind of opportunities as early as possible and off course not forgetting that where there are opportunities there are challenges. Everybody has a challenge but we cannot see the challenge unless we are there.
Yes, people have said youth join agriculture and farming, today because of poor post-harvest handling, the farm cost of maize is between sh300- sh400, we can appreciate that war in South Sudan contributed to this but still we cannot export to bigger markets because of poor quality, this low poor quality maize cannot be accepted even in neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Kenya …or eve be purchased by WFP World Food Programme, which is a challenge.
As Government, you need to address some of these bottle necks, establish tertiary institutions or skills Development hubs at every sub County for Skilling youth....a close look at candidate classes this year PLE 600,000, at senior four 300,000 candidates and here the implication is that 50% of young people who do PLE do not make it to S.4, where do they Go?
At S.6 or those sitting Advanced Level of Education Certificate are only 100,000. Meaning two thirds do not get to S.6, where are they and even when they complete only 40,000 got to University and only 180,000 are able to get employed!!.
Recommendations to the Government:
1. At least construct one vocational training institute at every constituency with a long term goal of establishing one at every sub-county for skilling the youth.
2. Enhance on partnerships and collaborations with more civil society to put together synergies to address the bottle necks in agriculture and farming, stream line youth engagement in productive initiatives as well communicate the HIV, unemployment solutions and make agriculture and farming more appealing and interesting to the youth, popularise Government programmes especially those that target youth, establish a youth advisory board to the Government.
3. Since the Government is doing well in the road network sector and continues to do well, establish and encourage more rural industrialisation so as to add value to what youth are producing as well enhance on job creation in rural areas.
4. Engage more skills development and mind set forums at grass root level, facilitate holistic peer to peer farm tours, this will reduce on rural- urban migrations, idleness, young people will be easily inspired by fellow young people to start utilising local resources to address global challenges.
These are the four main recommendations that we feel are so crucial and of concern towards youth empowerment for Uganda’s healthy sustainable development.
Some of the recommendations will cause petitions to the Government of the Republic of Uganda to ACT.
More youth civic engagement in at least 50 Districts of Uganda, advocacy High level events, engagement with Government, information will be on: www.yafug.org and websites of some partner youth led organizations and Facebook page: YOUTH ADVOCACY FOUNDATION UGANDA-YAFU and publications in media houses.
Youth, whereas we have a right, we have duties to perform and obligations to fulfill, let us not ask what Ugandan Government has done for us but rather start by appreciating that contributing a brick is a contribution to building of this nation. Where is your brick and how have you used it?
Together we are bridging the gap for youth unemployment by creating healthy linkages and opportunities with creating jobs for Uganda’s sustainable development.
The writer is a coordinator with Youth Advocacy Foundation Uganda
Youth unemployment at 13%, time to act is now