KAMPALA – More than 78% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30 and youth challenges are enormous. While 78% of people in Uganda are youth, the country has no formidable independent Ministry of empowered Authority to manage and coordinate the Affairs of the Young people of Uganda to bring about Youth Prosperity.
Owing to poverty, unemployment, corruption, poor coordination of Youth affairs in Uganda, many youth groups have been formed such as the Uganda Poor Youth Movement, the Ghetto Youth which is now the People Power Movement, as well as thousands of other youth Groups.
Poverty as well as hopelessness of the youth as made many Ugandans to leave Uganda for Middle East countries to work as House Maids, Guards, etc. It’s these young Ugandans abroad now dominating the social media to rise up against the Government of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Thousands of Youthful Ugandans in Europe and North America are getting united against the Government not because they hate their country but because of the conditions which made them run away from Uganda. To make the matter worse, we have chosen to describe them as hooligans instead of engaging them.
Programs such as Youth Livelihood Program, Capital Venture Fund, Youth Fund, etc were poorly implemented and were characterized with corruption and poor coordination. The Youth Venture Capital Fund in 2011/12, Graduate Venture Fund, and the Youth Livelihood Programme—have been introduced to target youth who wish to venture into business but less was achieved largely because of poor management and these venture capital funds had stringent criteria attached to them (e.g., a requirement of collateral). Few Youth in slums and rural areas accessed these programs to even help rural youth in agriculture, and these programs never solved the unemployment problem.
The Emyooga won’t achieve much for as long as it’s operating like a political mobilization group.
The Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) which had tried to identify, engage and empower youth for prosperity is facing resistance from politicians and technical people but it is also too big to conceptualize Youth Affairs and its not well streamlined legally yet its management is committed to a transformed and Empowered Youth. The Operation Wealth Creation must be institutionalized and detached from the Ministry of Agriculture or National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) if it’s to succeed in its programs.
The poor coordination and management of Youth affairs in Uganda is responsible for the high unemployment rate for young people in Uganda especially those who have formal education and live in the urban areas. The rate at which unemployment is growing in Uganda is in tandem with the rate at which youth are graduating with certificates, Diplomas and Degrees. Those without a degree are also not able to obtain jobs because they lack the skills needed for the position or they don’t have the resources such as land or capital.
Youth unemployment poses a serious political, economic, and social challenge to the country and its leadership. The cycle is making it increasingly difficult for Uganda to break out of poverty.
Informal sector work accounts for the majority of young workers in Uganda in which 3.2% of youth work for waged employment while 90.9% work for informal employment yet no government institution is effectively coordinating the sector. The youth in informal Sector are not supported by Government while the Youth employed in Industries are exploited by employers and you expect youth be celebrate the NRM Government. This is the reason why youth are now rising up against the Leadership of the Government of Uganda.
The existing youth Institutions have limited powers, influence and resources to solve the many youth Questions. The National Youth council is as powerless as a Community Youth Organization in some village in Kayunga while the Department of Youth and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development is a mere policy unit with no resources to transform the livelihoods of the youth of Uganda. This Office remains a mere political mobilization Centre yet detached from the youth of Uganda.
Creation of a Ministry of Youth Affairs or a National Youth Authority.
Having conceptualized the background above, I believe its high time that I humbly request President Museveni through Cabinet to Create an independent fully fledged Ministry of Youth Affairs or a Uganda National Youth Authority to among others focus on;
· Implementing a holistic Development oriented National Youth Policy
· Youth Identification and Organization
· Education & Skills Training
· Empowering Youth in Modern Agriculture
· Research and Innovation
· Promote Youth Empowerment
· Mainstream Youth in National Development
· Harnessing and Development Youth Talents for National Development
· Managing and Promoting Engagement with Youth for National Development
· Collaborating and Overseeing stakeholders engaged in Youth Promoting Activities
The structure of the Ministry of Youth Affairs or an autonomous National Youth Authority must be empowered enough to serve the youth of Uganda. A ministry must have its own vibrant Technical Team as well as the Political Leadership. It must have a well-structured Regional Leadership to be able to serve the youth interests depending on where they come from.
This ministry must limit bureaucratic tendencies and focus on strategically engaging the young people into development oriented activities. The Ministry or authority must ably coordinate with Government agencies as well as ministries and authorities to enable youth access opportunities.
As of now, there is no well-structured youth Office that can effectively coordinate all youth affairs in Uganda.The lives of millions of Ugandan Youth are marred by;
· Inadequate education and skills
· Lack of Information
· Labour rights abuses
· Exploitation by employers
· Gender discrimination
· Political Discrimination
· Tribalism/Sectarianism perpetuated by Individuals
· Lack of Accessibility to Government Offices
There is therefore need for a formidable youth institution that can coordinate and support the Youth to prepare for, negotiate and explore the opportunities and demands of their passage to adulthood. We must really appreciate that investment in Youth is not only a social obligation but also rewarding in economic sense.This is because the Youth are the country’s most valuable asset, are an integral component of the development process and they provide for and safeguard the future of the nation. It’s therefore my call to President Museveni, the Government Officials and all stakeholders to make a concerted effort to plan, implement, monitor, evaluate and strengthen activities of the Youth with the Youth or possibly with Officials with passion to serve the youth for Prosperity. The youth of Uganda are tired of Government Officials who live only to exploit them. The young people have been used by politicians especially those in Government. We must now reform or we fall.
The creation of a fully-fledged Ministry of Youth Affairs or a National Youth Authority will be a step forward to invest in the Youth and to provide an operational framework to all the actors with a set of realistic guidelines from which action programmes and services canbe developed to facilitate meaningful involvement of Youth in national development efforts and to respond to their various needs and problems.
The establishment of the Ministry of Youth Affairs will give a strong inspiration and hope to the desperate youth of Uganda hence leading to a nurtured, protected, educated, equipped youth with skills yet economically, politically and socially empowered.
Solve the Poor Youth Coordination Affairs questions and you would have solved the skyrocketing unemployment. Give information and resources to youth and you will deter youth uprising against the Government.
Lastly, a fully-fledged Ministry of Youth Affairs or a Uganda National Youth Authority will lead to social-economic transformation of Uganda and it will effectively;
Organize the youth of Uganda in a unified body.
Engage the youth in activities that are of benefit to them and the nation.
Protect the youth against any kind of manipulation
Inspire and promote youth a spirit of unity and national consciousness
Provide a unified and integrated system through which the youth may communicate and coordinate their ideas and activities
Establish channels through which economic and social services amenities may reach the youth in all areas of Uganda
Encourage the youth to consolidate their role in national development in the economic, social, cultural and educational fields
Initiate and encourage the formation of youth organizations and to facilitate communication among them
Promote relations between youth organizations in Uganda and international youth organizations and other bodies with similar objects or interests
Having been an elected National Youth Leader in Charge of Kampala Region from 2010 to 2015, and having grown up in the Ghettos of Kampala and as one who operate in the informal sector in Uganda, I share the plight of the Youth of Uganda and I totally understand the complex challenges that deter the social-economic transformation of the youth of Uganda. I have therefore decided to write to the president with the proposals as clearly stated above and I believe my letter is an eye opener and it will provoke debates within the structures of the Leadership of the Government of Uganda, the Political Parties, The development agencies, the Youth Organizations as well as the individual youth in Uganda and Peace Loving citizens of Uganda. The Youth Question must be answered and the External Foreign interference will decimate. Foreign Influence can easily be perpetuated in Uganda once the youth are poor, jobless and being described as hooligans and thugs by some wrong elements in the Government of Uganda.
Uganda is at a time bomb if the Youth Complex Challenges are not addressed.
Luzindana Adam Buyinza is a Team Leader of Public Opinions, and Former member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of NRM where he served as elected National Vice Chairman in Charge of Kampala Region of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).