It is time to rebuild the economy by creating opportunities for the youth – experts

UGANDA – Even before the outbreak of Covid-19, Uganda was ranked highly when it comes to issues of employment with university institutions churning out thousands of students with few ending up in the job market.

The situation has been made worse by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic as the youth remain in a more precarious situation in sustaining their livelihood. The majority of them are employed in the informal sector, which is characterized by daily earnings while others are jobless.

Long before the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the outbreak of the pandemic, experts explained, young people were already feeling the pinch of the increasing cost of living and lowly staggering paying jobs.

According to experts, it is important to note that many youth worldwide, especially those in Uganda, have been hit harder by the second wave of the virus that has seen the government impose new lockdowns to curb further spread.

Young people continue to struggle to keep alive and also meet their costs of living in a partially reopened economy and yet they are seen as the future of Uganda’s workforce and economic transition envisaged in the 2030 goal of middle-income status economy. The government has overlooked the youth when it comes to relief provision.

Speaking to the Business Times in the recent interview, the Minister of State for ICT, Joyce Ssebugwawo says although the country’s economy has been significantly slowed down by Covid-19, it is the time to contribute to its rebuilding by creating opportunities for the youth.

She says it is the reason for the appointment of a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and Innovation Council which will work with her ministry to formulate strategies for creating jobs for the youth through ICT outsourcing and innovation; and prescribe regulatory frameworks and projects relevant to the growth of the BPO and innovation industry.

The council will also identify, support and scale up breakthrough technologies and disruptive innovations.

Ssebugwawo says the government embarked on an initiative to develop innovation sectors as one of the key areas that the government can exploit as a long-term solution to address issues of unemployment amongst educated youths.

“This will be a challenging task for the council, I nonetheless have confidence that they will deliver this national calling,” she says.

According to the experts, Uganda has great strengths in attracting BPO jobs into the country. Over 30,000 youth leave the university each year and these are English speaking and ICT literate.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Aminah Zawedde says innovation council is a deliberate effort to contribute towards the collective effort to digitalize the economy as a vehicle to achieve social and economic development.

She says it is a strong response to the growing need for strengthening co-ordination, inclusiveness and ultimately, the effectiveness of the council and innovation development.

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