H.E. President Yoweri Museveni told the youth to wake up and join the money economy so as to fight poverty or rather ‘moneylessness’ This was during his meeting with members of the Youth Coalition for SDGs led by UN Resident Coordinator, H.E. Rosa Malango at State House Entebbe on 10th February where discussions focused on youth contribution to sustainable national development.
The youth presented their contributions to the country and expressed concerns their concerns in a five-thematic focus area format around; Human Capital Development, Sports for Development, Climate Change and Environmental Conservation, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, as well as Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.
In the President’s address, “I know the address of wealth and jobs” he told the youths. Noting that Uganda’s biggest problem is most people’s inability to join the money economy because of their predominant focus on working for only their stomachs rather than both stomach and pocket.
“That is the biggest problem, certainly not poverty. They are not poor but they suffer from moneylessness. They just don’t know how to make money. People have land but not using it fully. That’s why we say everybody must work for the stomach but also for money,” said the President
According to the 1969 census, 96% of Ugandans worked only for the stomach, a figure which dropped to 68% by 2014, thus giving chance to 32% of people to work for both food and money. A figure which can be increased if Ugandans engaged in at least some of these five (5) ‘addresses’ of wealth and job creation as enlisted in his book “Four Sectors and the Seven Ways for Wealth and Jobs Creation” i.e commercial agriculture, industrialization, services, information communication technology and public service.
The President encouraged the young people to advocate for their people to venture into commercial agriculture. As such, he also encouraged them to emulate successful people in order to be successful thus inviting members of the Youth Coalition for SDGs to his Kawumu Presidential Demonstration Farm in Luwero and Rwakitura farm. He called for support in; sensitizing Ugandans about conserving wetlands and fish farming as he has done with Limoto Wetland Wise Use Demonstration Site in Pallisa District; encourage all children to go to school and have mindset change as government commits to upscale technical schools, teachers colleges and nursing schools per district.
To foster investment, innovation and creativity, the President informed the youths about government’s plans of establishing industrial parks in the 20 zones of Uganda where youth investors will be provided free working space, 7 years tax holidays for youth startups, with only payment being for utilities (water and electricity).
The meeting was attended by 37 youth representatives of the different members of the Youth Coalition for SDGS where United Nations Association of Uganda (UNAU) is a member. In attendance were also: Ms. Elsie Attafuah, United Nations Development Plan (UNDP); Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Representative; Hon. Mary Okurut, Minister for General Duties and Focal Point Minister for SDGs; Dr. Albert Byamugisha, the Head of the National SDG Secretariat at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr.Samson Kasumba, News Anchor at NBS TV as well as Mr. Victor Ochen, UN Global Ambassador for Peace and Executive Director African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET).
The President pledged to hold annual meetings with members of the coalition on youth contribution to national development through implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.