The trend of growth in Uganda’s economy has not been fast enough to create enough jobs with higher earnings for one of the world’s fastest-growing workforces.
The World Bank reports that agriculture has remained an earnest tool for most youth in the country.
Youth unemployment is growing: Each year, 400,000 youth enter the labour market and compete for only 80,000 formal jobs. 75 per cent of the workforce and 55 per cent of youth in Uganda are engaged in the agriculture sector.
A world bank report researched and authored by Dino Merotto says young Ugandans need faster economic growth combined with a faster economic pace of economic transformation to create higher productivity jobs for the future economy.
“With a median age of just 15.9, Uganda is the world’s youngest country, it also has one of the world’s highest fertility rates at 5.91 per woman (2010-2015).
“Youthfulness means the working population grew at a very fast rate of 4 per cent per annum between 2011- 2017. This will continue with the number of job seekers increasing in the coming generations.
“We estimate that the working-age population will increase by 13 million people from 2017 to 2030. With one dependent per person of working age, and 1.42 dependents per employed person in 2017, dependency in Uganda is usually high,” Merotto said.
The report also highlights that high population growth is resulting in high and accelerating labour force entrants per year.
“Between 1992 and 2014, more than 300,000 additional workers entered the labour market annually and will increase rapidly in the future: between 2014 and 2030, the number of entrants per year will double and between 2030 and 2040, the number of new entrants will exceed one million each year.
In the period since 2000, only Mali and Gabon within Africa have seen their workforces grow faster than Uganda’s 3.8 per cent annual average growth.”
“Uganda must increase average labour productivity faster, in addition to creating more jobs for new workers.
“With most workers in Agriculture, raising agricultural productivity must be the cornerstone of a strategy for jobs and economic transformation.
“This must be coupled with the faster movement of young workers from agricultural employment into higher productivity industry and service jobs,” says Merotto in her report.
In her report, Merotto points out ten facts about job challenges in Uganda.
She says that there is a slow trend in economic growth especially in agriculture, speeding up of the labour force, increasing spatial inequalities in terms of economic and job opportunities, the slow urbanization process despite high population growth, limited private sector demand for wage workers, deteriorating quality of jobs among others.
The report, however, suggests recommendations for a jobs and economic transformation strategy for Uganda stating that “The stakes are rising high as more and better educated Ugandan youths enter the labour force with a crucial challenge for policymakers in Uganda for the next two generations.
“Success or failure could determine Uganda’s development of fate and future social stability. The great lakes region is prone to fragility and violence when youth aspirations are thwarted, so meeting the challenge requires clear strategic priorities and persistence, consistent and coordinated policies.”
The working-age population is young. “Young people between ages 15 and 34 make up about 40% of the population, but nearly 70% of the working-age population.
“The young nature of the population means that Uganda’s economy will need to create two, and then over three times as many jobs annually in the coming generations, and these jobs will need to target youth employment specifically.”
Evelyn Anite, State Minister for Investment and Privatization said the government needs to empower the private sector which will in return provide jobs to most youths.
“If we empower the private sector, they will be in a position to create these jobs, the number of jobs that the public sector of Uganda is just about 700,000 and we talk about 42 million Ugandans, so we have to resort to agribusiness for employment.”
BY FRANK SEMATA