In 1987, Gabula, a student at Makerere University was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Such an uncouth punishment for the young rookie who was 17 years at that time.
What landed him such a jail sentence would beat any sane person’s imagination.
The award winning essay sponsored by BBC elucidated the case of false economics as the reason for the underdevelopment of Africa and what could be done to moot the discrepancies. Citing Gabula’s fast rising international popularity, the government fabricated terrorism charges that landed him into the coolers.
The essence of the aforementioned story is to introduce to you the matrix of factors affecting the youth in attaining acceptable levels of full employment and entrepreneurship.
Undeniably, there are millions of less known scenarios like Gabula’s; whereas not all end up in prisons, many are locked up in traditional jobs for the best part of their hey days. Think about it: A very brilliant mind graduates with a first class honours in commerce, recruited immediately by a respectable organization, assigned a six figure monthly salary and awarded a very lucrative lifetime contract. That may seem as a dream come true, but the bottom line may dictate that one holds that job and not venture into private practice.
To convince one out of these inducements is close to impossible. Those in such places of job affluence enjoy the privileges pertinent over the majority, who are either unemployed or underemployed.
On the contrary, some youths are borne to entrepreneurship as the only means to survival. Decades after Gabula’s essay, his analogy remains very sensible; he said that the service sector is part of consumption and not production. And most of the business currently created by the youth cling more onto the service sector side. However, this doesn’t only keep the business small but also at the perpetual dependency to a number of volatile factors for example death of the entrepreneur often would lead to death of the business too.
I understand, the businesses formed on the meritocracy of the cyber space have extremely low initial costs and seem to promise extra ordinary profits in the least possible time. This is such a wrong sensation that has deprived the youth of their creative and innovative powers. They are quick enough to get involved in businesses whose stakes are deemed high such as sports betting.
Let’s not forget that today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. According to UNFPA, the population of the youth accounts for a quarter of the world’s population. Now, in Uganda alone, those below the age of 35 account for about 78% of the population. Unfortunately, over 62% of the same group, according to an Action Aid study, remain unemployed – one of the highest levels of unemployment in the world.
These are worrying statistics and alot of work is needed to bolster our hopes for the future.
The representative governments and stakeholders such as academia and NGOs ought to create frameworks that promote job creation and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, the youth that would have taken up entrepreneurial initiatives are employed full time. And, on the other hand, those with the will lack the resources to start enterprises. Alongside the lack of sufficient skills to fill the few available jobs.
In the past decade, Uganda has experienced strong GDP growth, averaging 7% annually, but this has not generated jobs, a trend seen across the continent. Therefore, the youth that will win are those that will venture into job making rather than job seeking. And those that will not be frustrated by the stakeholders in power – like how Gabula was frustrated..