The Uganda Development Bank Act does not provide for special interest groups such as the youth.
FIGHTING YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
By Andrew Mafundo
Parliament has granted leave to the Western Youth MP, Mwiine Mpaka (NRM), to introduce a private member's Bill intended to support the development of the youth in Uganda.
The Bill entitled The Uganda Development Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2018, intends to support development financing for youth. It also seeks to amalgamate youth empowerment programmes under the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to facilitate organised access of the funds by the youth.
In its current form, the Uganda Development Bank Act does not provide for special interest groups such as the youth.
Since 2011, the Government has rolled out several youth empowerment programmes in terms of funds including; Youth Venture Capital Fund (YVCF), Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), the Presidential Initiative on Skills Development under State House and other initiatives under NAADS, etc.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Fund (YEVCF) was the first government flagship programme for youth empowerment, introduced in 2012. It was rolled out in all the then 110 districts and the initial investment by Government was sh32b ($15m).
The modus operandi was; Government had a memorandum of understanding and the money was deposited in the bank which spread it in all its branches across the country. According to an evaluation report titled Youth Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Fund, done by mentors; Nathan Fiala and Nicolas Serriere, between July 2015 and today, only 6,780 youth had received the requisite training and were, therefore, eligible for training.
There is no any other source that shows the number of individuals or groups that benefited from the programme. By any measure, the programme fell on all its expected deliverables.
On September 4, 2014, Cabinet passed a resolution for the establishment of the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), a sh265b rolling fund programme for a period of five years. On the January 24, 2014, the President launched the Youth Livelihood Programme.
This programme had relaxed rules, for example, it doesn't require collateral security for anyone to access the money, it gives a grace period of 12 months for interest repayment, requires no formal registration of the applying businesses and there are no administration fees levied on the applications.
As per the government policy on promoting and facilitating the private sector investment, the programme was targeting the unemployed youth (ages 18-30) and it covered all the districts and municipalities of Uganda, including Kampala Capital City at its inception. However, according to the findings of the evaluation report as at January 20, 2017, 8,391 projects had been funded to the tune of sh59,835,511,589 and the interest due was 14,818,413,522. Only 47% of this had been paid back.
Alongside this, the President has been running his own parallel initiatives, including the Presidential Initiative on skills development. These are multi-pronged. They include tailoring lessons for the girl child in Wandegeya, the defunct Najjera workshop for carpentry. On January 30, the President presided over the graduation of 661 girls from the girl-child skills development initiative.
During the ceremony, he revealed that his office had spent sh1.2b on the six-month course. Other interventions included the President personally delivering cash to washing bays and furniture workshops within the Kampala area. A private investigation after the President had delivered sh100m to Mulago Car Washers, the chairman elect revealed a day later that the SACCOS had been formed a day before the President's visit and it was not legally registered.
The latest beneficiaries of Rukungiri youth groups have allegedly been apprehended by the authorities over presenting fake youth groups or over fights that have erupted over disagreements regarding the cash.
The presidency needs an incorruptible monitoring and evaluation team. Uganda's unemployment rate still ranks highest in the world. Averagely, there are 40,000 graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions annually and only 30% are absorbed into formal employment. The majority vanish into the informal sector facing access to credit as the biggest challenge.
These don't include the millions who drop out of school at various levels. Therefore, to address the chronic unemployment challenge and to increase availability of access to affordable credit, the Government should amalgamate the several interventions and transmute them into a youth bank under the auspices of Uganda Development Bank.
The writer is an executive director of Citizen Concern-Africa