Technology News

How social media is shaping Ugandan youth


Ronald Agaba Bills, the author


On the 25th April, 2015 a sizeable number of amazing young people, from top bloggers to lawyers, bankers, scientists, University students, journalists, private sector members among other diverse professional backgrounds will sit down in the same room for a networking breakfast at an upscale city restaurant, Piato on Lumumba Avenue next to the French embassy in what is dubbed, #OurGenerationOurConversation.

The theme of this event is “seizing opportunities in the pearl”.

It’s common knowledge that Uganda is a country for young people.

70% of the entire population is below 30 years according to UBOS figures of the last national census.

Now, with the country preparing for 2016 general elections, any gathering is treated as suspect towards organizing for elections.

As part of the organizers, we have not been spared; I have received numerous calls, people seeking to find out whether this is yet another gathering to declare a sole youthful candidate.

We have become a country so obsessed with politics that we hardly have any other time for the most pressing issues in and around us.

Away from these offside groups, this event is significant in many ways than I can describe in a single blog or article. So what then is this event about?

According to the organizers, this is the flagship breakfast, in a series of annual events, where the youth in diaspora will be flying in to engage and compare notes with their peers at home.

Specific topics to run the gamut: Technology, entrepreneurship, business/job opportunities, diaspora to mention but a few.

An initiative so noble but also a very telling sign that the youth have a vision of maximizing their demographic dividend to contribute towards the growth and development of their country.

Right from the face value one is impressed the lineup key note speakers.

Eng. Brian Kwesiga, President of Ugandans in North America Association (UNAA).

For many observers, this is one of the most organized and biggest, diaspora associations.

However for this event, Brian is a perfect fit for completely another reason -He is the youngest president in the history of such an important organ.

A privileged position for him to share on, Opportunities and challenges in the diaspora for a young Ugandan.

The other speaker is Tony OKao Otoa, Public affairs and national content leader at Total E& P company-Uganda.

Tony will speak about opportunities in various economic sectors for young people, but with his professional work in the Oil sector (few young people know what is taking place in the Albertan region) and a leg of interest in Agriculture, as an enterprise. I can only wait with fondest expectations.

Dear reader, the current generation of professionals below 40 in Uganda is the most educated, travelled and tech-savvy.

By them starting to build synergies of this nature, you get a sense of hope that Uganda is poised to reap from the talents of her passionate generation.

Other than a session that will be most captivating for those who will make it dubbed #OpenSession, where inspiration stories of success will be shared, this breakfast is also unique in many other ways; Participants are catering for their welfare.

A stark contrast for those who had vulgarized this generation as being entitled and always demanding rather than contributing.

The other unique point is that invitations for participation are purely done through use of social media.

A tall order for those who discount the impact of this new age.

No one is naïve enough to assume that a post on Facebook or a tweet is enough to bring about change, but I have seen successful social media- campaigns spearheaded by young people.

A foundation called 40/40 led by a one Ester Kalenzi boasts of collecting over 100m shs towards helping vulnerable children through online platforms.

The latest, campaign #SaveRosemary, an NTV campaign to save its former news anchor, who unfortunately succumbed to cancer, can only attribute its success to social media.

Therefore, this kind of respectful conversation may well lay a ground for a full and open airing of ideas, facts, figures and opinions for the common good.

I’m very optimistic going forward therefore, that, when our young people take forward this new digital networking and translate it into face-to-face conversations like this upcoming breakfast then you can say options are open that the repeated echo of those ideas in the months and years to follow- voiced in conversations within much smaller groups will lead to action and produce meaningful solutions to some of our most troubling generational and national problems.

Agaba Ronald Bills is an Author /Team leader at ARB Leadership consult, aspiring youth MP-Western region. (Twitter; Billsra)

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