Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Experts are predicting an increase in Uganda’s population from 40.3 million to 55 million by 2025.
Musa Lwanga, an Economic Policy Researcher says over 40% of the population will be below 18 years of age and that 23% will be between 18 and 50 years. He says if nothing changes the country will grapple with crisis-level dependency rates as the majority of the population will be unproductive.
David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development says that the government is laying strategies to ensure that even with such a population structure, the country can meet both its short and long term targets for social and economic development.
In his statement to mark the World Population Day marked today under the theme; Renewing the promise: “Empowering Ugandan Youth to drive Socio-Economic Transformation”, Bahati said that government is aware of the burden on the working age population and its effects on provision of basic needs.
As a result, he said they are coming up with programmes and policies that will enable the population age structure change to that which is favourable for development.
One of the programmes one can point out is the Youth Livelihood run under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in which government initially pumped in over 260 billion shillings to help unemployed youth to come up with enterprises and earn a living.
But, Tony Odokonyero, a Researcher at the Economic Policy Research Center of Makerere University says the programme is yet to be a success.
He says that for the country to make the majority youth population productive the government should embark on equipping them with the right skills that the industry need.
Lwanga recommend that skilling the population starts with training skill providers not changing curriculum like what is currently happening at the lower secondary level.
On his part, Odokonyero recommends a change of design in the way youths are helped to become self-reliant.
However, as it is now, 78% of our population is below 30 years of age and 49.3% almost half of the population are under the age of 15 years, meaning that they can’t provide for themselves.
Experts warn without careful planning, this population structure might drive Uganda, one of the countries with the highest growth rate considering that the global average is 1.2% into high levels of poverty and conflict.