Report for 2nd Ugandan Convention held on 15 September 2012, London.
BE THE CHANGE YOUTH FORUM – theme “Make your difference make a difference”
Keynote speaker: Gerald Karuhanga – Youth MP, Western Uganda
Welcome remarks: Irene J Mutumba – Youth Coordinator
MC Moses Mwanje, Rebecca Nakimera – Co MCModerators: Moses Mwanje and Katasi Kironde
- Gerald Karuhanga – Youth MP, Western Uganda
- Andy Cartwright – Greenwich Business School
- Mpagi Kironde, Kayenet – ICT Expert
- Phil Mugisa – FVM
- Yahaya Kiyingi – London Liberal Dem Parliamentary Youth Candidate
- Hitul Thobhani – Kidz4mation
- Rebecca Ssali – ARK
- Audrey Wagaba – Time2Move
- Florence Labwo – l Memory Books
- Zack Lwanga – SPAU
The purpose of this forum was to promote youth inclusion in shaping the future of Uganda and our Diaspora community and to dialogue around issues and challenges in their communities. The Forum brought together a diversity of young voices: young women and men from various walks of life and tribal affiliations in the Diaspora. These will include partners and members Youth activists, young social entrepreneurs, youth bloggers, members of youth NGOs and other civil society organizations, youth with disability and members of the Uganda UK military.
Through dialogue, we hope that young people will build understanding of each others’ points of view, and in the process find common ground. We hope that the forum will be a catalyst for sustained youth dialogue and organizing in the Diaspora, with committed and open engagement from youth. The forum will include performances, music, talks and discussions.
Issues of concern included:
- “Change really begins when you find the issue that really breaks your heart. Find that issue and take it personally!”
- “Youth are designers of a new social architecture”
- “Why call youth “the future” when they are here now making change.
- “It is necessary to support the creative freedom of young people in the Diaspora and Uganda to discuss issues of concern of their country Uganda’
- “What can youth do for a better inclusion of youth living with disability and this includes those with life threatening illness like HIV?”
The Forum was designed to specifically showcase how youth can drive social change towards peace and economic opportunity.
As youth shape their human and social capital during the crucial transitions they undergo towards adulthood, they question stagnating ideas and perceptions. In many occasions, young women and men are driven by a need for change; a change that would reshape, among others, the political and socio-economic situation in their communities.
Most of the time, their reaction is triggered by the feeling that they are not heard, consulted or that they cannot contribute to effective responses to persisting challenges.
Through their action, youth have proven that they want to be included and considered as active partners in society and that they can be recognized as problem-solvers.
Through concrete examples, the Youth Forum will examine the different ways in which youth constructively contribute towards building a culture of peace, supporting good governance and promoting economic opportunity: through their participation in governance or in public affairs; through volunteerism and social entrepreneurship, which strengthen their soft skills and generate benefits for the entire community; through a responsible use of the internet to network, learn, share information, involve and sensitize different groups.
The Forum will equally examine the challenges facing youth and which impede upon their capacity to contribute to their societies: unemployment, gender inequalities, lack of access to education, marginalization, discrimination, limited or no involvement in public affairs.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FORUM DISCUSSION
Floor – William Senteza: I’m an engineer and a scientist. What people don’t know is that education, especially in Science pays 10 – 15% more than some of the general courses people do. So what I am trying to suggest to the youth is try and do scientific courses, especially oil related courses, because Uganda has just discovered oil, so there will be a lot jobs coming out of that.
Moderator: Do you have a specific idea s to how to influence youth to go for those sorts of subjects?
Floor – William Senteza: What I was leading to is to enquire whether there are scholarships that youth here can tap into?
Panel – Andy Cartwright – Education Consultant: I take your point absolutely and I think it is a solution because you will find with oil companies that are signing PSEs in Uganda that where there is a clause in the PSE agreement that says where possible use local content, there are turning round and saying you haven’t got the expertise or the experience. So one of the things I noticed because I am British through and through, well actually people call me African on the inside because I spend a lot of time in Africa and one of the things that I have notice throughout Africa and Uganda a is no different is that the youth in Africa have a thirst for knowledge unlike the youth in the UK who have everything and don’t take what they can take out of it. I think that is fair. The youth of Africa are thirsty for knowledge but one of the things we need to give them and what I am trying to do both inside the university that I work for and as an external consultant is to give relevant skillsets in small ways and this is where government intervention can come in to actually fund people with the experience and expertise to go in and actually give that experience to the youth and not just the youth, I mean I don’t think we need to be ‘youthist’ or ‘ageist’. Then if you’ve got those skillsets, you can turn round to the oil companies and say we’ve them, then people like me can go back into the background then we teach the trainers, we teach trainers to train then it gives it an ongoing investment into the next generation.
Floor – Samuel Safo: From my point of view I am willing enough to help but I haven’t got the time. I have a minimum level of funding and if there is a way I can channel my funding to a youth in Uganda, so for example someone who is working in ICT so I will lend you online, you can set up whatever you set up and you can pay me back over a certain number of years. I wonder whether that is feasible.
Secondly, addressing the MP. I don’t think corruption will ever stop. I just think it is a natural phenomenon and I think that because our civil servants are quite lowly paid they will take a bit more. My problem with corruption is that people use it to build houses, get new wives, new cars and I really think if they had the business training so that if they took a bit of money but then put a little back into the country by building or investing you can create the employment that we need and this has been shown in for example a place like Malaysia. Malaysia is very corrupt, as corrupt as Uganda, but they use their corruption smartly, for something big so within 5 or 6 years he doesn’t need to keep coming back to take more, whereas our ministers, once they lose their jobs they are really badly off. So I am asking is it feasible to give our ministers and civil servants some business training so in case our money goes missing.
*A recent study by an independent anti-corruption organizations revealed that Uganda is the most corrupt country in the East African Community.
Panel – ICT Expert: I spend a lot of time in Uganda, spend a lot of time on the ground and find there are a lot of youth there that are very talented as we mentioned before but there they get scholarships to universities like Makerere, they tend to be for courses like Agriculture and courses like that, we need to change that.
Moderator: Going back to the question if an outsider says I have the money/funding to help but I do not have the time. How would you use it? Would you be able to help the youth and be able to pay it back after a certain amount of time?
Panel – ICT Expert: Yes without a doubt, even now we have sponsorships coming from a leading company here, the Director is really in support of what I have been doing In Kampala. Things have been running for 2 – 3 years now and I am looking at ways to get more funding and how we can channel that money in there. One of the ways is to sponsor the youth to go and do ITC at Makerere for example
Floor: I work from 8 – 8 or 8 – 9. I want a really simple platform whereby I can say this is my money and you tell me how much you need, and when you can pay me back. I need a platform that is that simple because some people here we work really hard and the time to really sit down and think about it is not really there. We just want platform that says what is the business, how much do you need and how much do you think it is going to make. So to me it is an investment to them it is a starting and we both earn money from it. It has to be very simple. We need a platform of that kind.
Panel – ICT Expert There is no project like that at the moment. But one of the tangible project s we have just finished is an SMS project and it is working and they are making money from it. It is not just about me making money from it because I am already an IT consultant but we are trying to empower them and give them real skills because they come from University and they know a lot of theory but you ask them can you build a web page and they don’t know where to start. So definitely there are projects in the pipeline for future involvement.
Panel – Youth MP: My colleague said corruption can’t be fought, but corruption is largely like a cancer you can’t just reduce it or remove it in one day or one year no. But, you can bring it to very negligible levels. Look at Rwanda. Rwanda had a genocide in 1994 it is doing far better than Uganda on a number of projects! So we can fight this corruption and it is going to be us because it is only us because the older generations are already too corrupt so it has to ourselves, to use the means, to use emails to use any means to fight corruption.
Floor: Congratulations to Stephen Kiprotich. I am interested in the sports sector. We have many young people, who have talent, but the government does not help them and recently whilst at the US convention, I happened to have a discussion with one of our representatives at the 2012 Olympics. He said the government doesn’t give them any help and yet these people are representing Uganda, I am wondering why they can’t put up funds/sponsorship to help people like that.
Floor: I f you have a specifically educated population for a specific environment then you can actually have a conversation and an argument. People talked about corporates not taking an interest in anything other than the corporate and governments not taking an interest in anything but government, but if you have an educated people that can actually take on the corporates and actually argue on their own level and so they can’t turn around and say to you that you as a country don’t have the experience, don’t have the expertise, it only once you have the expertise that you can take them on at their own game effectively and then make it relevant for the people.
If we feel the older generation has that cancer/outlook the answer has to be empowering the youth and that will continue the change and really enable everything you want to see.
Moderator: As you know last year there were the riots, I am sure you are all familiar with that, following that event do you think that has changed how youth can influence change or do you reckon that has now discredited youth?
Panel: One way of trying to change that has been to trying to talk to them, showing them the sort of results they have brought upon themselves; because a lot of them have been stopped from going to university some of them can’t get proper jobs. If they can be shown how much this affect can have upon their lives, then they can lead by example by showing other youth they
don’t have to go through what they went through. Because some them were just trying to make a point and saying that “the government doesn’t care about us and won’t take care of us”. That is the mentality that they have. They need to stop thinking about other people helping them and start thinking about themselves helping other people. Because if you want the community to change or you want things to go well, you need to be the first person to start it. So we are trying to show them that the only way to bring change is by starting to do something.
Panel – Hitul Thobani: I see both sides of it, I feel sympathy with some respect for the cause, frustration, disempowerment, lack of opportunity feeling that they are only heard by the powers that be when it means there are votes to be won, but the other side is individual responsibility. Each person acted as they did and has to take responsibility for themselves. Some of them you might have some sympathy for their circumstances but I can see both sides to it and in answer to your question I think there was an impact and youth are perceived, a little negatively. There was a black mark introduced. Unfortunately.
Moderator: So as a young person, who wasn’t part of that, what would you say is the best way to approach you or your organization? How could you help me do that or what advice would you give me?
Panel – Parliamentary Candidate: The answer was and still is more political participation. A lot of young people were coming out and saying they are tired of the ‘system’ they are talking about the political and business class. One of the ways I want to encourage young people is using the same methods that were used in the riots, not looting or anything like that, but going out on the streets and campaigning being vocal and saying what you feel, using the same methods to make political change.
Floor: With what has happened in the UK. What preventative measures are you putting in place so the same thing doesn’t happen in Uganda? How are we going to motivate the youth? Someone mentioned the youth going out and being proactive, but it is not that easy. Having grown up in Uganda till the age of 13 I know that it is not that easy. You can’t just go to someone and say I want to do this and that. They don’t have the contacts, because our country is very deprived in certain areas and you could find someone who is very intellectual and could actually carry something but they don’t have any way of reaching out to you and saying this is what we want. So how are you going to make sure that this doesn’t happen in Uganda and the youth are motivated?
Panel – Youth MP: We have actually seen far worse situations happen in Uganda than you have seen in the UK because we have a very high level of unemployment. 83% of Ugandan youth are unemployed. And the inadequacies in our education system. It is largely irrelevant. We’re still studying what the colonialists left us and of course the corruption. if a you keep seeing somebody who was involved in a corruption scandal not only driving a Hummer but also sleeping in about 3 houses for maybe 1 or 2 nights, houses in Kololo which are even more expensive than some of the houses here in East London or elsewhere in London so perhaps we may be a little worse before we get better because unless government heeds the call of young people, because we are saying look we need employment , we are not saying we want to work in government, we are saying create employment opportunities let young people do business, don’t overtax them.
Moderator: How are you going to do that?
Panel – Youth MP: What I can do as an MP is to raise these things on the floor of parliament 1) Expose the corrupt so that we have more money that can be put in industrialization
Floor: But the corruption is already known about. I read a paper that said Uganda has the highest rate of well educated youth. Come on!
Panel – Youth MP: I am part of the legislature arm of government my job is to make sure that the executive accounts
I make sure that when a minister is given a certain amount of money and they are supposed to do certain projects on youth employment including lending out small loans and all sorts of youth programmes. I make sure that they account for that money as a member of the public accounts committee and also as a member of the finance committee that’s my role as a member of parliament. So it is very difficult for a member of parliament to be tasked with carrying out the executive duty. I cannot do that and I am not empowered to do so but I have responsibilities as an MP 1) representation 2) legislation 3) and most important, oversight. To make sure that every shilling that a Ugandan pays for in taxes is accounted for. That is my role. That is the role of MPs.
Floor: What is the age of retirement in Uganda?
Moderator: We have raised a number of issues particularly youth unemployment. So how can exert greater influence upon the executive to bring about this change? So how are you able to influence the executive?
Panel – Youth MP: Yes that is amazing. We need partners! Parliament has been sleeping. This time we are so lucky Uganda has the youngest parliament in the entire world. The average age of is 42. So now is our time. We constitute 78% of that country because we are 35 years and below so now we want to start the hard questions.
If the government i.e. the executive doesn’t implement what they keep promising, and they keep it on the campaign posters, industrialization, employment, it only remains there. I can assure you come 2016 the youth will vote this government out of power.
Floor: What is the retirement age in Uganda, because the president was in power when I was born I am now 26 years old?
Panel – Youth MP: You find about 20 youth waiting at your door every day looking for employment and you don’t have jobs. So what can you guys do now? Technology has done it very well for us. You can send emails, write articles, you can even mobilize and motivate the youth to make sure they come out and demand their rights. This tongue you see I am using right here is very, very powerful. If the youth wake up one morning and begin demanding the government to account for the money those taxpayers pay every year, the youth will have the change that they have been praying for
Panel – ICT expert: So we are talking about high unemployment is really high, 83% like he said and these are talented youth, and we are talking about A students, so I decided I am going to do something about it so I set up an IT academy. I’ve got a partnership with a secondary school where I get the best students and I teach them IT and how do I do that? Every Saturday morning I run an IT session, runs for about 5hours where I am training them and also I get them sponsorship. One of the girls graduated this year through me finding sponsorship to push them through. So altogether we have had about 20 students come through our academy. Sitting back and waiting for the government to do something, I don’t think it’s going to happen. We need to take our own initiative and try and make change ourselves.
Floor: The way things are moving in Uganda, it is more of a corrective effort, a corrective voice before we ask what Karuhanga has done, you need to ask what you have done for your nation. There is no way you are going to wipe out that corruption if you are not involved because it is compromising every aspect of life. We are having people with PHD doctorates being compromised. It is affecting every field of life in Uganda we don’t have to keep quiet. I know some of us may be comfortable here because they are part of the system, but the truth is it may not affect you today, but it will affect your children, it will affect your grandchildren, it has to be a corrective voice and we should get on board if it means for youth to wipe out corruption, we have to do that because that is the number 1 enemy of Uganda
Floor: My name is Sara Ngoma. We ask questions to politicians but my question as a teacher, I know youth have a lot of answers the only thing we need to do is direct their answers in the right direction. The speaker who has just been speaking said we may point a finger that way but 3 fingers are pointing at us. If a youth points their finger, 3 fingers are pointing back at them. That is why we are looking at the gifts and talents among our young people. What’s your gift? What’s your talent? Can it be directed in the right direction? Regarding unemployment, what can we do about the system of education to tap gifts and talents that youth have so that they can be able to create employment, se the right for the youth so that the future is set in the right direction
Floor: As a collective we want to suggest ways that youth can engage and influence change.
Floor: If we set up programmes and ideas are among we will provide we need to provide resources for the right type of education, with the right type of approach to the education in the classroom setting then we get connections to fund the type of tapping of the skills which are required
INTERVIEWS WITH KEY CONTRIBUTORS
HON. GERALD KARUHANGA, YOUTH MP FOR WESTERN UGANDA, INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE
Q: Hi we are here from the youth forum, would you like to introduce yourself just give us a few brief words and your comments.
A: I am Gerald Karuhanga I am a member of parliament. I represent youth in Uganda. The youth forum is such a wonderful opportunity because we share the opportunities but we share the challenges faced by youth both here in the Diaspora but also those who are back home.
Q: What changes can we make to engage the youth here with the youth in Uganda in order to encourage social development and progression?
A: Yes there are a number of things that the youth here can do to be of help to the youth back in Uganda.
1) Is communication, facebook does a wonderful job, we have emails, you can write articles. You can engage in a number of ways.
2) You do business with them, you can buy bananas with them, I am sure you have some links with people back home, so you do some good wonderful links, and things here sell quite well so you will be making a difference in the life of this young man or woman back home and you will also be making a profit here in London. So it can be a mutual benefit.
Q: I see a very mutual benefit, and for those who are seeking startups or funding are there initiatives that they can access or is there access to funds for those who are less able to get involved in this way?
A: Well the youth in Uganda, the funds that are there are still largely too expensive to access, however, now there are two youth funds which have been put in place and one is a graduate fund, which can be accessed by graduates.
Q: And sorry I will interrupt you there, and what does that fund do exactly, it helps them to…
A: The youth borrow this fund at a very low interest rate and they can use it to do a business. First of all you must be able to show that this business plan is feasible, it’s workable. Then once the bank is convinced they will give you the money and you pay back in a period of 1 – 4 years.
Q: Okay that is very good is there practical here in say developing a business plan, because obviously if want a feasible business plan it’s not necessarily straightforward, are there workshops? Do you help them to do this?
A: Well there are about 3 intervention levels. 1) Leadership. The youth MPs have been trying to work with civil society organizations, there is one organization called Enterprise Uganda which is partly funded by the government. 2) The banks have been trying to engage the youth on how to write proposals. Because sometimes the youth may have a wonderful idea but either because of background or schooling he may not be able to jot it down in a proper manner. So the bankers have been trained to assist the young people and see how to organize their projects. I think that is quite a practical
Q: Any closing comments?
A: Yes one thing that I want to remind my fellow youth around the world not only Ugandans, is that the future is not for those who are contented with the times of today it is not for those who apathetic about their own challenges . The future is for those who can blend passion, reason and courage in advancing their own countries and we can do it.
HON SAFIA NALULE, MP PEOPLE WITH DIASABILITIES, INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE
Q: How is the government helping the young people of Uganda who perhaps have disabilities or who are disadvantaged
A: There are a number of policies. There are a number of laws I can talk about The Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act. There is an affirmative action whereby disabled students can get extra points so that they can enter tertiary institutions and universities. By so doing we are increasing the numbers of disabled children who have got degrees and diplomas. Government has also put up a special fund of 30 million shillings per district but this is strictly to be used by disabled people to raise their incomes, but I still feel that we need to do a lot.
Q: Can I interrupt you there, so this fund is money for social enterprise? Or it is a welfare fund? A: It is for income generation.
Q: And so it is a fantastic thing that they are being given an education but then what happens after that?
A: Yes that is why I said we need to do a lot, because youth are the biggest numbers, they have the biggest population in Uganda but the majority of them have an education but they don’t have employment. Maybe because the type of education we have is not geared
towards somebody creating employment but geared towards someone looking for employment. We need to promote this programme of skilling Uganda, whereby Ugandans are being trained skills to go and create jobs for themselves. We also need to exploit like in Kenya, there is a ministry for the youth. It organizes the youth to get jobs outside of Kenya. They take the youth to the Philippines, to England and so on and so forth. So in the same vein, you in the UK you can arrange for that, whereby our youth formally come here and work.
Q: So perhaps we need government intervention to produce some kind of workable relationship between both governments and have exchange programmes. That is what you are suggesting?
A: The other thing I would like to say is the way we are doing our work as members of parliament, I wouldn’t like us to pass any more laws or any more budget which is not equitably distributed. I would like to see a budget which caters for everyone in Uganda. Be it in any geographical location, be it for persons with disabilities or for youth or for women.
Q: I see and perhaps what we need as well is greater transparency in seeing how this wealth is distributed and accountability. How can we increase accountability because I think even when funds are made available we need to see they are spent and see the results, do you not think so?
A: Yes one thing I have thought about is to amend the Budget Act. If we can amend the Budget Act to give specific provisions for this kind of money, then if it is within the law it means that when the institutions are making accountability then it automatically comes the institutions must account they must be transparent as to how they use this money.
Q: I see, so perhaps what we really need is a regulatory body that oversees these institutions and ensures that they are accountable.
A: Yes the regulatory body can be there, but I am also the vice chairperson for the human rights committee of parliament. What we are going to do at the Humans Rights Committee of Parliament is to put out what we call a ‘Checklist of Issues’. So if you are given money to do some work for disabled people or for the youth or the women? You must account for that money specifically on that vote.
Q: I see that is definitely a way forward, and what I would envisage as well, along with that is that, that body educates and trains those people on how to best spend that money and how to best invest it so that they get the best return surely.
A: Training will never end and I think it is necessary.
Q: Thank you very much. Do you have any closing comments?
A: When I came to this convention, I wanted to bring the voice of disabled people, but what happens with the majority of disabled people you are not given education, even those who are given education it is very hard for them to get jobs and those who can get jobs, the
working environment is very unfriendly. I just want to plead that at the next convention there should be a discussion on persons with disabilities.
Q: I think that is a fantastic idea and I think on that note I’d also like to point out that we have had the Paralympics here in the UK and they have been a fantastic event and what they have shown us is that disabilities don’t stop you from achieving and accomplishing your goals. They have been a number of gold medals won for the UK and I hope that one day there will be some won for Uganda as well, by disabled persons, so let’s fight on.
HITUL THOBHANI – KIDZ4MATION, INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE Q: Please introduce yourself.
A: Hi I am Hitul Thobhani and my organization is Kidz4mation and our work and specialism is all around empowering and building confidence in children up to the age of 11 or 12. Self esteem development, confidence development and an infrastructure in schools and societies that can really help develop these things.
Q: And what is your take on the event today, what are your comments? And how can we best move forward in terms of engaging youth, Ugandan youth and perhaps encouraging them and inspiring them to get involved and feel part of the Diaspora in a positive way?
A: First of all I’d like to congratulate you on the event. It’s only the second one and to start something from the ground up is a huge achievement, so congratulations to you and the team on that. I think the debate we just had in terms of the solution and how we can engage and empower youth, I think there are a few elements. Some of it is building on strengths and skills like building on the agriculture, building on the level of education and the thirst for knowledge, and building on that. The government then and I think social enterprise is a huge possibility as well for a part of the solution. I think the government ahs to equip and put in the infrastructure and the support structures to enable the youth to do what they want. One initiative I heard was an organization which enables people to offer a loan to individuals who want to create a business down to a small sum as a low as £50 and that is a loan. So someone can then create a very microenterprise but it is a loan! Things of that nature can be harnessed. So I think creativity as well needs to come in as part of the solution
Q: I think that is fantastic take on things. I think that moving forward we do absolutely need to make it manageable. So in a sense we turning it into bite-size chunks and not making it such a large scale thing.
A: How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece.
Q: Absolutely how do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece! If we make it manageable we can certainly face the challenge and we can make it workable for the little man as well as the big man. I think in that way we will find solutions that enable us to move forward. Any closing comments?
A: I’d just like to say. Well done on the event. I am delighted to be here and I am honoured to be on the panel in the youth forum and I hope it grows I am sure it will. But I think what we really want is legacy and change as a result of this
Q: How do we do that on a practical note? How can we ensure that we have a legacy? A continuing legacy and it doesn’t end here? What do you think we can do?
A: I think you’ve obviously got some influential politicians from Uganda, I think it is making sure that the change is at that level and if we are able to see that through and see it filter through in actual change on the ground, in programmes and then maybe come back next year and review, here is what has happened as a result. Here are the things that came up in 2012. If we can see that, I think that is part of it.
Q: Thank you very much. We will go away and ponder that and come back in 2013, hopefully with a progress report.
MPAGI KIRONDE, KAYENET – ICT EXPERT, INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE
Q: What did you think about the forum?
A: I thought the forum was wonderful, trying to give the youth some ideas about ICT and what it is all about and how they can try and break into that sector.
Q: Seeing as IT is the way forward what can we do or what initiatives can be taken to encourage youth to improve their skill set so that they are up to date with the rate of expansion in communication at the moment and growth in communication?
A: I would probably advise youth to get practical skills. It is one thing getting a degree, but you also need to embark on some IT projects, actually build something and more practical skills.
Q: I understand that you yourself are running initiatives, can you tell us a little more about those?
A: I am running an IT academy. We are training youngsters, about more practical skills rather than just theory. Teaching them how to build web applications, websites, and mobile apps. I run a session every week where I am actually running through code and showing them how these things work.
Q: And where do you see Uganda in five years time in terms of IT. Are we going forward fast enough or what can the government do for example to keep us moving with the times?
A: Uganda is still behind compared to the Western world; probably the biggest barrier is the cost of internet and bandwidth. It’s very expensive. Here you probably pay £10 for 1meg in Uganda you are paying 10x that amount so trying to work with the big telecoms companies to reduce the price of the internet is the way forward. I think that will really push Uganda forward in terms of ITC.
Q: So we could do with government intervention or legislation to help to moderate the big telecommunications companies and therefore make IT more accessible to the common man.
YAHAYA KIYINGI – Lib DEM PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE
Q: What do you feel needs to be done for the youth currently? What are the pressing issues?
A: I think there are two pressing issues. First and foremost the fact that young people don’t have someone to look up to. There is a lack of role models especially in academic areas, including politics and business
Secondly, we need to empower young people. Letting them know that they can do and achieve what they want. Giving them the sense of ‘can do’ attitude.
Q: On a practical level, how can we harness, how can we introduce this can-do attitude? How do we go about this? How do we engage the youth? And how find out their thoughts/thought process and get them to think in a more positive way?
A: I think the first think is simply talking to young people won’t change anything. We have to set up these forums. Set up these groups or clubs where people can meet together and share ideas and throw ideas together. It’s incredible how much individuals can help each other. You don’t have to be a professor or a business owner, but just an individual may have a skill that you may need help with. So just sharing ideas and skills through circles and forums.
Q: So in a sense what you are saying is that we need dialogue.
A: Yes it is all about sharing skills. Knowing/ identifying each person’s strength and sharing that skill. That is how I got to where I am today. Just identifying individual skills and then using them. And showing you how you can get to where you want to be.
Q: On that note, sharing skills is a great idea, obviously in that way we are a very rich society, a very rich community if only knew it. But in terms of role models, who are our role models, how do we address that?
A: Someone said something interesting which is that young people at the moment, their role models are either in sport or music or film, no academics. I don’t have anything against these things but a lot of young men are being forced into especially in class “go and play football” they see a young black male, they put them in sports. They are the best at the sports club but they are the lowest in their Maths and English classes. That is where you start. Especially young men, giving them the attitude that studying Maths or getting a degree in Law or History or Science does not make you less of a man, it makes you more of a man. You don’t just have to be in sports or media, which is where I think we are being cornered at the moment.
Q: Does this start with individuals or does this start at home? Where does it start? We mentioned social media and the infiltration of social media and the way in which it influences young people so much. So I suppose you are suggesting that we need to influence social media and promote a different kind of ideal in young men’s minds. Or is it all from the home?
A: I think we start in schools. At home you have the inspiration from parents. People will tell you can do it. Whatever you put your mind to you can do it. At school you start to get filtered and I have had experience with it. You start to get filtered, for example, you are told “oh you’re a tall person, you belong in the basketball club” and you get pushed into it. You become captain of the basketball club. That puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to the after-school clubs and debate clubs etc.
Q: So in a sense if we are going to change the way things are we want to change the curriculum, we want to change the way of thinking in schools. So we need to influence Parliament in that sense, hence your aspiring to a political career. And what would you do differently? What is your motto? Sum up your political agenda in a few words.
A: My political agenda is to communicate. That is it in a word. I want to communicate. I want to be an advocate for young people, that’s why I am running. One person said to me “Yahaya, you’re young and you’re running because you are young. Don’t try to be an adult; don’t try to be something that you are not. You are running because you are young. Use it and exploit it”. And so I am going to exploit my youth. If I do get elected, hopefully I will, I want to advocate, I want to exploit my youth, while I am still young and to advocate for young people, because I have been there, I have done that.
PHIL MUGISA – MVM, INTERVIEWED BY KATASI KIRONDE Q: Please introduce yourself.
A: I work in social development and at the moment we have a project in Uganda. It is centred on the east, Mbale and there we do a number of projects such as youth development, skills development and we also promote sciences, science technology with young kids, mostly primary school kids, we teach them the basics of the solar system. We promote renewable energies as our headline manifesto, in that we promote windmills, locally made windmills, solar power and a few other schemes related with science technology.
Q: All of these wonderful skills. So in light of the fact that there is such a high unemployment level, is this enabling those youth to get jobs or what is the long term vision?
A: In the long term yes, very much so. We want to broaden horizons and open people’s minds and just engage with the community and introduce them to certain aspects of say the professional world or technology for instance where many people would think they wouldn’t need to know given their circumstances. But we want to let people know that technology such as renewable energies and issues such as those are readily available, as long as people are aware.
Q: I see and what initiatives, do you think perhaps the government needs to take to enable people such as yourself to not just have startups but to have successful startups?
A: They can clear the way in terms of red tape. There is still quite a lot of red tape when registering. The government has gone some way in making things a bit easier especially for NGOs and other start up organizations but there needs to be more in terms of clearing red tape and information. Basic information, about where to register, how certain things are run in terms of the local community
Q: I see and how can we today encourage youth and young people to get up and to start?
A: Again, information, basic information. More awareness of certain issues, certain opportunities that are available. There is not enough awareness of opportunities at the moment. There needs to be more in terms of letting youth know what they can do and what they are capable of.
Q: And what do you think stops youth from knowing what they can and cannot do? What do you think is the hindrance? For example, what inspired you?
A: Initiative. Basic initiative. What inspired me really I’ve had a self interest, my own passion for development in Africa for a long time, ever since I was at school. But for people in general, I think there is a lack of initiative at the moment.
Q: I think in our earlier panel sessions, one of the things that came out is that often we like to point the finger, however, when you are pointing the finger what you don’t realize is that 3 fingers are pointing right back at you. And quite frankly perhaps the answer lies in oneself. Would you agree?
A: Yes very much so.
Q: So perhaps one of the crucial things that we have learnt today is perhaps. Get up and start. But it is really very much down to you. So perhaps we need to encourage the youth to take it upon themselves to be proactive and to have that initiative.
We all know that Youth really are designers of a new social architecture however they need support to achieve this. We especially need to work with government bodies and businesses to provide the right framework in order to accomplish this.
We need to focus on dialogue around issues that arose from the 2012 Youth Forum and see how we can provide a framework for change as well as empowering the youth so they are able to live up to their potential. We want to inspire them and equipping them with knowledge so they are able to make a real difference starting with their own lives.
We will again seek to further address the challenges faced in our communities and hope to create lasting partnerships across diverse groups including young women and men from different walks of life and tribal affiliations in the Diaspora and will seeking to reconnect them with their cultural identity as well encourage partnership with youth back home.
We aim to achieve this through discourse and strategising with appropriate business partners, government bodies, NGOs and affiliated support groups and networks to find real, workable and sustainable solutions to real problems. The change begins as we engage with and encourage our youth to take the initiative. 2013 is all about inspiring our youth to take the imitative.
Key parties to invite to the 3rd Ugandan Convention 14th September 2013:
Financial institutions including banks/or other funding bodies. – To discuss issues around borrowing money to enable start ups for youths. How can we make funding more accessible? Preferential rates? Lower surety requirements? Micro-finance? Including but not limited to Bank of Uganda and Crane Standard Chartered and Equity Bank. Additionally, there are several microfinance companies so perhaps it is a case of working with them and seeing how we encourage them to work with youth AMFIU, Organisation for Economic Co-operation, MIX Market, FSD International, BRAC, KIVA – Pearl Microfinance Limited, Gatsby Uganda, Women’s Microfinance Initiative and The Microfinance Support Centre.
Oil companies to discuss training/employment opportunities so the forthcoming plethora of jobs is not only filled by expats. Discuss issues around lack of skills and expertise and how we can meet this. Including but not limited to Tullow and Total and CNOOC.
Big telecoms companies to discuss practical training/employment opportunities. As well as the prohibitive cost of internet access – in order to move with the times we need to make the internet/technology more accessible. Including but not limited to Orange, Celtel, Simba, and Suretelcom. Additionally a representative from the Uganda Communications Commission.
Minister for Education to discuss giving Ugandan youth better skill sets and training so that they are equipped to create their own jobs, and have relevant skills to meet the demands of a changing society and economy. Provision of more scholarships for courses other than traditional Agriculture for example. Amending our present rigorous education system and examining whether it really equips the youth of Uganda to face the practical challenges of living in 2013 and beyond. Argument against too much theory and not enough practical application. The system needs a shake- up. Invite educators e.g. Dean/Principle of Makerere University to see whether/how change can be implemented, representatives from other leading schools, colleges and universities.
Minister for Sports – we need to discuss the possibility of funding and training our talented youth to be the Olympic champions of tomorrow.
Leading business representatives from all sectors – can they increase traineeships? Will they provide sponsorships for training graduates/non graduates in core skills? Will they fund tailored university degrees?
Renewable energy companies to discuss involvement at grass roots level, training and job creation opportunities in the ever increasing renewable energy sector. Potential traineeships and sponsorships.
A representative from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development – so we can discuss the policies they currently have to improve standards of living, equality and social cohesion, especially for poor and vulnerable groups in Uganda.
A representative from Public service commission to discuss business training for civil servants to make them more self sufficient so they steal less from the public purse. Maybe get someone from the civil service college too so that we can discuss how this can be implemented.
Minister of Finance – we want to discuss job creation, how investment can be made to create jobs in Uganda and improve skill sets. Funds for things like computer training/access etc. e.g. the government here funded computers for every home in the UK.
Minister for Disabilities – to discuss help that can be given to disabled persons and the extra challenges they face to achieve better inclusion and fairer opportunities. This issue really needs a proper discussion.
A representative from the Ministry of Health – we also need to discuss challenges faced by those facing life threatening illness like HIV. Additionally, there are a number of organizations we can work with on this for example including but not limited to The AIDS Support Organisation, Avert, Childhope and Aid for Africa.
Compiled by Katasi Kirode and team