President Museveni yesterday warned the youth to stay away from poor leaders and listed four priority areas in the fight against the rampant youth unemployment in the country.
The President made the comments while addressing the youth during the ‘scientific’ Youth Day celebration under the theme: “Youth engagement for global action” that was held at State House, Entebbe.
President Museveni asked the youth to emulate his ingenuity of being a leader who is a farmer, and a trader, who can easily transit his ideas to others.
“I know you are youth leaders but you should be wealth creators as well. I do not like leaders who are not wealthy. What are you going to say or tell your voters when you are poor. I am a leader who knows farming and other things. But you are doing nothing and you say that you are a leader, what are youth leading?,”
The President listed fish farming, shoe making, vegetable oil extraction, and maize milling as the top areas youth should engage in to get themselves out of poverty.
According to President Museveni, government has played its role of creating a number of initiatives aimed at giving youth loans and startup capital to get them out of poverty, but most of them are lazy and want free things.
The NRM leader reiterated that initiatives like the Youth Livelihood Fund (YLF), Women Fund, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and Emyooga that was recently launched, are already in place but they are underutilised.
“I want to tell all the university leavers to form associations most especially in manufacturing. For instance, if they engage in maize milling and make animal feeds which we are currently importing from abroad, do you know how much they would be earning?” Mr Museveni asked.
Mr Museveni said there is enough raw materials across the country and that it is up to the youth to come up with ideas that can add value.
The President also revealed that he is to start a leather tanning factory for the youth at Kawumu in Luweero District to make shoes and other leather products.
He said if youth form shoemaking associations, they will own the company and create their own jobs because currently, shoes are imported from China.
He asked the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, to mobilise the youth groups into associations in the four priority areas.
President Museveni said if the money government has put in the various youth initiatives is not enough, more will be provided as part of the wider plan to fight youth unemployment problem in the country.
The chairperson of National Youth Council, Ms Lilian Aber, said Covid-19 has greatly affected the youth and therefore they need government support to enable them create jobs and contribute to national development.
“When companies started laying off workers due to Covid-19 pandemic, many youth were laid off and this has increased unemployment problem across the country. There is also an increase in teenage pregnancies, abortion and forced marriages after closure of schools,” Ms Aber said.
The Minister of Labour, Gender and Social Development, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, said that the NRM government increased the funding for the youth anti-poverty initiatives and many youths have benefited.
Mr Tumwebaze said to date, about Shs37b has been refunded by some youth who took loans, an indication that the initiatives such as YLP are successful.