By Edgar Abitekaniza
Uganda, with its sizeable and youthful population, grapples with a pressing issue: high youth unemployment, which stood at 6.58 percent in 2022.
A significant number of young individuals find themselves either underemployed, engaged in low-quality jobs, or have altogether abandoned their pursuit of employment.
The primary culprits contributing to this crisis encompass a skills-demand mismatch, restricted access to capital and markets, rapid population growth, and insufficient infrastructure and services.
In response to these daunting challenges faced by the youth in the oil-rich Bunyoro sub-region region, LAH Home of Graphics has emerged as a youth-led initiative dedicated to implementing interventions.
Foremost among these challenges is the issue of unemployment. Proposed remedies encompass enhancements in the quality and relevance of education and training, promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation, bolstering social protection and labor rights, and the creation of more dignified and productive employment opportunities.
To equip and prepare the youth for employment, LAH Home of Graphics has delineated three key thematic areas.
Our belief is that by enhancing the capabilities of our direct beneficiaries in these areas—namely, photography, graphic design, printing, computer literacy, and financial acumen—they will subsequently extend these services to a broader community of indirect beneficiaries while generating income.
Our intervention strategy has a strong focus on digital technology. We aim to leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) for fostering social and economic development.
Mitigating youth unemployment stands out as a pivotal challenge and an opportunity for digital development, as many young people in developing nations confront barriers to quality education, skills training, and access to decent employment.
Digital technology holds the potential to supplement education, diminish youth unemployment, and propel socio-economic advancement.
Nevertheless, for the youth to harness these prospects, they must all be equipped with a spectrum of technological skills and enjoy affordable connectivity. Digital technology’s role in addressing youth unemployment is multifaceted:
Creating digital jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities: this encompasses online freelancing, e-commerce, mobile app development, digital marketing, and more. Such roles offer income, flexibility, and learning opportunities, especially for youth facing obstacles in formal employment.
Supporting Small Mediuem Enterprises (SMEs) and Small Producers: through integrating digital technologies, we can bolster the productivity, competitiveness, and market reach of small and medium-sized enterprises.
This integration can lead to job creation for young people throughout the value chain.
The other is leveraging digital technologies for innovation because digital tools can promote innovation and problem-solving in diverse sectors like agriculture, health, education, and governance.
This also fosters entrepreneurship and creativity among young individuals while enhancing the quality and efficiency of public services.
Investing in digital skills development through prioritizing digital-related technical and vocational education and training (TVET) initiatives, we hope this would empower the youth with critical skills for the digital economy, including digital literacy, digital entrepreneurship-coding, data analysis, and critical thinking, and communication.
Consequently, we aspire to collaborate with policymakers in the Bunyoro sub-region to adopt strategic and comprehensive approaches for nurturing youth employment through digital transformation. Key policy recommendations encompass:
Developing robust communications infrastructure to enhance access and reduce digital service costs for young people.
Strengthening regulatory frameworks and support mechanisms to broaden the adoption of digital products and services among youth and SMEs.
Amplifying government support for technology parks and startup incubators, such as LAH Home of Graphics, which offer mentorship, funding, networking, and training opportunities for young entrepreneurs.
Implementing decisions made at continental, regional, and national levels that encourage economic diversification and integration through digital technology.
The Bunyoro region of Uganda boasts abundant oil resources, attracting numerous investors and development projects. The oil sector promises numerous opportunities for local communities, particularly the youth, who constitute the majority of the population.
These opportunities encompass vocational training, employment, entrepreneurship, and social services.
However, these prospects have often been missed due to a lack of preparedness.
LAH Home of Graphics is stepping in to engage, equip, and expose young individuals to these opportunities, while fostering peer-to-peer interactions and mentorship.
We firmly believe that our endeavours will leave an indelible impact on the community, empowering its youth to seize the potential offered by the region’s burgeoning oil industry.
The author is IT Enthusiast