News and Views

Unemployed youth a threat to stability

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By JOHN ODYEK

Parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga has warned that the high unemployment rates among youth was a threat to stability of business environment because when the unemployed take to streets in riots they could destroy businesses.

“It is in the interest of companies to see that youth get employed to ensure stability. Give them opportunities for internship and employment. I am not saying youth should riot,” Kadaga said.

She was addressing a national consultative meeting on the Youth Venture Capital Fund. The function was organized by the Uganda Parliamentary Youth Forum at Silver Springs Hotel, Kampala. The meeting was attended by about 200 youth representatives from all parts of the country.

Kadaga said she was concerned about the situation of situation of the youth with regard to issues like their education and employment. She said Parliament needs pass a law to govern the issues of youth. She promised that she would allow a motion to be moved in Parliament to begin a dialogue on the problems of youth.

The labour force in Uganda stands at 13m according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The unemployment rate among Ugandans aged 14-64 was 4 per cent in 2010 and a majority of the labour force classified themselves as self-employed. The majority of the unemployed persons are youth and graduates.

She said ‘youth’ was a small department in the ministry of gender and their issues were drowned among other issues.

Kadaga said government and commercial banks should come up with simple procedures to follow while lending to youth.

“I was asked by youth in my constituency to guarantee them loans under the youth fund. They were told leaders should guarantee them. If I guarantee 500 youth and they fail to pay, will I pay for all of them,” Kadaga said.

Emmanuel Kitamirike, executive director Uganda Youth Network said each year Uganda produces 400,000 graduates from universities and all tertiary institutions. Kitamirike said the jobs created annually were only about 90,000 creating a job deficit of 310,000 annually.

Monica Amoding, chairperson Parliamentary Youth Forum said they were unhappy with the way the Youth Fund was being operated because accessing the funds was excluding those without ‘O’Level certificates, the uneducated youth. Amoding said the funds should be part of the employment.

Government in February signed an agreement with three commercial banks to create a sh25b Youth Joint Venture Fund. The fund was set up with a sh12.5b contributed by government in partnership with KFW, a German Development agency. An additional sh12.5b was mobilized by participating banks.

The interest rate is set at 15% with charges and fees capped at 1%. The fund is expected to support youth starting or expanding their business enterprises. The loan sizes will range between sh100,000 to sh5m or 20% of injected equity for youth group investments.

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