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Youth and employment– Which Way Forward?

This was the resonating theme at the 2nd Annual Youth Festival held at Old Kampala Senior Secondary school from 25 to 26 August, 2012.

Organized by the Open Space Centre, UNFPA and other agencies the festival attracted hundreds of young people, students, young entrepreneurs as well as politicians to discuss employment issues, network and learn.

Highlight of the festival was the debate with the theme: Is the education system or lack of political will responsible for youth unemployment, which saw young people take on youth Members of Parliament. Prominent in the discussions was the issue of the Youth Venture Capital Fund. Many speakers referred to the challenges they face in trying to access the funds. Youth MPs Hon. Monicah Amoding and Hon. Patrick Nakabale reassured the young people that they are working to address the situation by pushing for the National Youth Enterprise Bill which will guide the implementation of the fund.

Ahmed Hadji of Africa Youth Development Link said that young people are innovative, what they need is support to propel them forward and empower them to turn their ideas into solid businesses and other developmental projects.

A number of young artisans displayed their innovations ranging from jewelry, shoes, handbags and TV sets made from old computer monitors. At the “youth friendly” space young people could seek services and information from UNFPA partners including RHU, Uganda Red Cross, Straight Talk Foundation and Naguru Teenage Center.

From the festival it was clear that young people have the potential to transform the economic fortunes of Uganda - but it will take action on health, education, employment and sexual reproductive health.