His immolation set into motion the accomplishment of the "Tunisian Revolution" as a series of deadly demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia, in protest of social and political issues prevailing in the country forced strongman - Zine El Abidine Ben Ali - to step down and flee the country after 23 years of iron fisted rule.
With a whooping unemployment rate of 30%, but boasting of an 88% literacy rate, the embers of the Tunisian Revolution were kept glowing by an army of frustrated angry, but highly intelligent techno-savvy young people.
Although Tunisia is an Arab country with little in common - in terms of standard of living, history and culture - with Uganda, there are some uncanny similarities between the two countries that can provide some invaluable lessons to the Kampala regime.
One such lesson is that it's dangerous to ignore soaring unemployment among a country's youths, especially the educated lot. During the just concluded polls, president Museveni enthralled the young people of this country with "you want another rap?" song. Subsequently, millions of youths decided to entrust their destiny with president Museveni by overwhelmingly voting for him.
Whether president Museveni reciprocates the confidence Ugandan youths reposed in his leadership by sanctioning policies aimed at helping youths meet challenges- such as unemployment - facing them remains to be seen. However, what is indisputable is that the unemployment statistics and the concomitant poverty among the youths - especially the educated lot - is a cause for concern, since Uganda has largely a young population.
According to the labour flow figures at Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), of more than 400,000 Ugandans who enter the labour market each year, only about 113,000 are absorbed in formal employment, leaving the rest to forage for jobs in the informal sector.
Uganda's unemployment rate is 3.5% and that of the youths is a whooping 32.2%, while for those who have University degrees is 36 per cent. Although the government of president Museveni has made "investing in young people" one of its fundamental social obligation - by making it the fifth pillar of Uganda's Poverty Eradication Action Plan (which is the country's overall national planning framework), soaring unemployment among youths is an indicator that it still has a lot of ground to cover.
The aforementioned whammy has been exacerbated by a spiraling population growth, which is one of the highest in the world. According to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington D.C based research and advocacy group, Uganda's population growth rate of 3.5 is way a head of the world's, which is 1.2% This is worrying because a population growth that cannot be matched by the ability of the economy to create jobs will only lead to worsening unemployment.
Uganda's rapidly increasing population might lead to environmental degradation and the undermining of the country's food security. The fact that Uganda has not heavily invested in renewable energy like solar and wind, an increasing population that largely depends on fossil fuel will definitely cause deforestation and land wrangles as arable land continue to diminish.
True, the recent discovery and imminent exploration of oil in the Albertine Graben has brought renewed hope among youths in Uganda's economic prospects. One cannot fault them for verily believing that the expected oil dollars will trickle down to their hovels, thus helping them improve their lot in life.
But what about the amply documented institutionalized kleptomania among Uganda's political elite? Where does this leave the (misplaced) hopes of Uganda's youths in the country's oil sector? As it has happened in many African countries, the impending flow of oil dollars into the national coffers is wont to exacerbate high level corruption. Those who had no qualms to swindle Gavi and Global fund will feel entitled to feather their nests with oil dollars.
As president Museveni embarks on another five year term of office, it would serve him and this country best, if his government gives the exponential population growth and soaring unemployment among the youths the attention that they require.
As it happened with Tunisia's Ben Ali, president Museveni might find out the hard way that its not enough to take young people to the top of a hill (by availing them free primary and secondary education), show them the promised land in the lush meadows below, but repeatedly fail to deliver them to Canaan (by setting in motion policies aimed at helping them realize their burbling dreams).
Millions of youths answered in the affirmative when the president asked them whether they wanted another rap in the just concluded polls. However, if nothing is done to stem the swelling tide of unemployed youths roaming Uganda's towns and hamlets, the son of Kaguta might be given a "very bad rap" by his youthful supporters.
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