The modern youth must be one who engages in wealth creation, helping their family, village and society to become prosperous, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
The President's remarks were made on Wednesday as he officiated at the International Youth Day celebrations at State House in Entebbe.
The function, initially slated to be feted in Kitgum but relocated to Entebbe because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held under the theme Youth Engagement for Global Action. Present was the First Lady Janet Museveni and a host of dignitaries.
"The starting point is waking up the people near you. That's what I did in Rwakitura in 1966/8. You should not be a leader of people who are sleeping," President Museveni said.
The biggest problem that leaders must address, said Museveni, is that of people living traditionally, only growing food for consumption, and never engaging in money-generating activities.
"I want you to be wealth creators, I don't want leaders who are not wealthy or leading people who are poor," he said.
According to the 2014 census, the President said, 68% of the homesteads were still sleeping, only working for their stomachs.
"The medicine for poverty is money and enough money. We have told you to stop working for the stomach only and work for food and for money," he said.
The President re-emphasised the four money-making sectors: commercial agriculture, industries (small and big), services like hotels, transport, etc and ICT.
He challenged the young people of Uganda to go in for any of the above enterprises to make wealth.
Museveni said the government had put money into NAADS, Youth Fund, Women Fund, and Emyoga among others and called upon the young people to use that money to engage themselves in money-making enterprises.
"If you are not in agriculture, form groups or associations and get this money and add value to products like coffee, milk, which are plenty. The government will support you," Museveni said.
The President who commended the UNDP for the youth empowerment programmes, directed the ministry in charge of the youth to plan for them so that they wake up and join the four money-making sectors to be able to create wealth.
Frank Tumwebaze the minister of gender, labour and social development, thanked the President for providing stewardship in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said this year's International Youth day celebrations coincide with the last year of the implementation of the 2016-2021 NRM manifesto which focused on enhancing household incomes and wealth creation.
"In this regard, the ministry of gender has registered significant progress in fulfilling the commitments of the NRM Manifesto," Tumwebaze.
He revealed that under the Youth Livelihood Programme, a total of 20,631 projects benefitting 244,045 youth of whom 46% are female, have been financed to a tune of sh162.169 billion.
Through these funds, Tumwebaze said, the youth and women have been able to create self-employment opportunities and enhance their incomes.
"The ripple effect of these interventions are also being felt within the economy through tax contributions, promotion of import substitution and enhance economic activities," said Tumwebaze.
He also revealed that his ministry has stepped up measures to ensure that the process of externalisation of labour for those interested in seeking employment opportunities abroad is orderly, safe and accountable.
The UNDP resident representative, Rosa Malango, said the celebration occurs as the lives and aspirations of young people and their families continue to be upended by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The UN in Uganda has carried out a social-economic impact analysis of COVID-19 which revealed that up to 60% of the informal enterprises have stopped their operations or moved below the poverty level, denying earnings to between 5 and 6 million informal workers most of whom are young men and women," Malongo said.
She highlighted some of the UN initiatives supporting the youth in Uganda that include among others The Innovation Programme.
At the same occasion, President Museveni launched the Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility, an initiative of the UNDP and Stanbic Bank Uganda.
The initiative will enable youth and businesses pilot innovative enterprises or new ways of delivering products and services.
The facility has made available an initial $10 million grant and upto $200 million for concessional loans below market rates for the youth.
The National Youth Council chairperson, Lillian Aber, revealed that the Ugandan youth have been the biggest victims of the devastating effects of COVID-19.
She added that youth have lost jobs due to decisions of employers to reduce the numbers of employees as a cost cutting measure.
Aber revealed that there has been an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies during the lockdown, increasing the risk of unsafe abortions and deaths. She asked government to do more to support the youth.