Impact of high unemployment on Uganda


Innocent Tugume [unemployed] rides through Mbarara Town on Tuesday 22nd April 2011 on his way to Kampala.

Uganda has a very high unemployment rate estimated at 80% or more of graduates.

Mind you even non University graduates face a high unemployment rate or an under employment rate.

Ugandans need to focus on some key issues when it comes to unemployment.

1) Unemployment zaps the human spirit.  It leads to hopelessness and despair.

2) Unemployment means people cannot feed their families or themselves or even pay for simple things like medical care and as you all know, there is no medicine in the public hospitals or equipment. Heaven forbid that you ever face a dying family member and there is nothing the medics can do.

3) Unemployment also means that people cannot send their children to school. This is perhaps the biggest problem.  An under educated population cannot develop a country.  Sure we have some wonderful schools in Uganda but what percentage of the population can afford to put their children in these schools?

4) Unemployment leads to lawlessness, crimes (petty and big) as well as a tendency for young people to be recruited into rebel activities or even terrorism which promise them a better future.  Make no mistake about this.  You have all even seen this already where the unemployed youth are being used as punching bags by politicians in Uganda, both the current regime and the opposition. These young people have no other way out of poverty and suffering and during each election, the little money you give them entices them to stop looking at the future or planning for it.

6) One thing that is really bothersome is the youth get recruited to go and do manual jobs in the Middle East and Asia (not that I have anything about manual jobs, but I think we are mis using them and often we end up hearing about some of them dying abroad).

7) The effects of unemployment on the tax base are very big. When people are not working, you have a small tax base.  By Uganda not working hard to provide employment or sustainable small business projects, you have had to put taxes on even basic farm inputs like hoes.

8) With a reduced tax base due to unemployment, your expenses will not be met and you all know you have too high an administrative budget which chews away at the provision of basic services like health care and education.

9) Facing poor health care, bad roads, poor education, crimes, etc.. you will not attract some of us who live abroad to return home.  We have families.  We need health care. We need affordable education that is public for everyone.  Most of us, in fact I would say 95% of us live in countries where quality education is free for our kids and medical care is free or affordable (USA is different though).

10) The opposition in Uganda is getting fierce and you read your own news.  One of the main reasons is the high unemployment rate which has led to the problems mentioned above.

Do not zap the spirits of our future leaders.  You make a very big mistake when you do not care for our youth.  Some 10 million youth (age 35 and under) unemployed is nothing short of a crime. How will you grow an economy if your people are too broke to purchase your goods and services?

I will write about BPO (Business Process Operations) next weekend.  It simply means receiving jobs from big companies and rich countries and doing the same work in Uganda to help attack unemployment.

Martha Leah Nangalama

Moncton, Canada


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