By Ronald Musoke
Experts have urged the government to come out and design bold and deliberate plans if Uganda is to tap into her ever-rising youthful population.
With more than half of Uganda’s population below 18 years, the latest state of Uganda’s population report released on Dec.13 in Kampala has reiterated the fact that the country has one of the youngest populations in the world.
As a wakeup call for the country’s leadership, the report notes that Uganda’s population is expected to remain youthful in the next 15 years.
“We have a very youthful population and all planning should be geared towards the youth. If we don’t plan now, we’re going to have a very idle population.
“There is need to equip our youthful population for Uganda’s socio-economic transformation to take off,” said Charles Zirarema, the acting executive director of the Population Secretariat, Uganda’s population bureau.
Zirarema however, was quick to add that the growth in population is not the problem but the speed with which it grows, noting that, that is not argue that there are no challenges in the growth of the population.
“We must accept the fact that our population will continue to grow and the fact that the population will be accompanied by challenges, especially those related to service delivery.”
“The pupils who are studying under trees we see in newspapers today is an indication that we did not plan for them 20 years ago. The challenge is to ensure that this youthful population does not waste away,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maria Kiwanuka, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who presided over the function noted that there were both opportunities and challenges in Uganda’s rapidly burgeoning population.
“Uganda could easily experience a demographic disaster if the country fails to address the growing challenges of a rapidly growing population whose growth is not matched with an improvement in the quantity and quality of services in health, education, housing, water and sanitation and care and protection of vulnerable populations,” she said.
However, the more we look at our development challenges with the population at the centre of our focus, the more likely we are to address the critical issues that hinder Uganda’s development.