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The Youth funds can uplift Northern youth

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th June 2014 07:30 PM

FRANCE’S 1885 most romantic thinker; Hugo Mary Victor once said, “There is one thing that can defeat all armies, and that is an idea whose time has come!” It is time for northern youth!

FRANCE’S 1885 most romantic thinker; Hugo Mary Victor once said, “There is one thing that can defeat all armies, and that is an idea whose time has come!” It is time for northern youth!

trueBy Oscar Omony  

FRANCE’S 1885 most romantic thinker; Hugo Mary Victor once said, “There is one thing that can defeat all armies, and that is an idea whose time has come!”  It is time for northern youth!  
 
Two decades of war polarised and impoverished the north especially the youth who suffered the brunt of war.
 
It is over two years since the Government put in over sh250b on youth funds but to date information on the fund in northern Uganda remains a tall order and a luxury. 
 
 Parliament passed out sh250b to support the project with a yearly sh53b passed in national budget, but to date communication remains a luxury not a necessity in northern Uganda thus disenfranchising the youth in the disadvantaged and hard to reach north.
 
The youth fund is aimed at supporting business ventures owned by young entrepreneurs as well as enable them benefit from associated mentoring services from the participating banks. This will help support the growth of viable and sustainable SMEs in the private sector.
 
Already, the Government of Uganda in partnership with DFCU, Stanbic Bank, and Centenary  Bank has kicked started and availed sh25b for youth ventures to promote SMEs. Many young people are in private sector and eking a living on their sweat.
 
The skills they exhibit, like in Katwe in Kampala and many in town centres of Acholi, Alur, Madi, Lugbara, Lango and Karamoja in Northern Uganda can be enhanced when the youth fund is equitably, with proper information distributed.
 
The Northern Uganda, which is now ‘basket case’, was once the ‘bread basket’ of Uganda, and with the youth capital venture fund, other interventions like student’s loan scheme to enhance education, Northern Uganda through its energetic youth can become authors and co-authors of Uganda’s development.
 
Because of lost education, the war that bedeviled and orphaned many youth, Northern Uganda registers the highest number of children heading homes as parents, high rate of illiteracy, high rate of unemployment, high rate of school dropout and crime among the young people. 
 
Unemployment rate in Uganda is rated at 4.2%, which is an increase from 1.9% in 2007. This unemployment orgy affects the youth more since of the 34 million Ugandans, they constitute over 68% of the population. These national figures can’t be juxtaposed well with that of Northern Uganda which suffered two decades of war.
 
This calls for concerted efforts to raise the levels of awareness on the procedures and the access to the Banks in partnership.  The criterion for acquiring the loans is not as tedious just like the priority areas for funding. 
 
The priority areas includes Agro-processing, primary agriculture, fisheries, I CT, tourism, health, transport, construction, printing, among others.
 
This makes it possible for young people irrespective of location or level of education. Since it targets school drop outs, the northern youth will have been given true not raw deal by the government, if the deal gets to them.
 
The fund simply targets a group of 10-15 youth aged between 18-35 in business that has existed for at least three months with license and with a potential of employing at least four youth. Banks can loan up 100,000 sh25m to these groups. 
 
The Government of Uganda has passed and ratified several legislation that supports youth development. Legislations like the 2008 equal opportunity Act, the youth Act amended in 2001 gives youth an edge in development. With equal distribution of information and putting northern youth as a priority given their vulnerability, the Government will have built the nation.
 
The resultant effect will be building a critical mass of youth in development, and reducing misuse of youth by suspecting jittery leaders who scavenges on youth as their tool to create insurgency.
 
The writer is a youth activist and leader in Northern Uganda
 
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