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Uganda’s economy is dominated by the agricultural sector, which accounts for 41.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 85% of the export earnings and 80% of employment opportunities. The trade and commerce account for only 13.2% of the GDP. However, in the recent years, Uganda has witnessed induced growth especially in the private sector enterprises and investments with the investments growing by 19.8% from US $ 1.21 billion in 2000 to US $ 1.45 billion in 2001.
It is also reported that Uganda has the youngest population as well as the highest youth unemployment in the world according to the World Bank report on Africa Development Indicators (ADI) 2008/2009. Fifty six (56%) of the population is under 18 years. This is an indicator that in order to achieve meaningful development programmes and projects, there is need to involve the youth and have the programs youth oriented. While the number of educated youth continues to grow worldwide, there is insufficient knowledge about the role, use and application of ICTs in business, distribution of ICT skills among youth entreprenuers and the role that ICT-based skills have in terms of future employment opportunities.
Understanding the role of ICTs in a business Setting.
Information and communication Technologies(ICTs) are drivers for change in Entreprenuership and their impact in the economic, social, cultural, political and individual spheres of life is widely accepted and recognised world over. ICTs give the young generation a whole range of opportunities; socializing & exposure, employment and conducting research among others. It is widely accepted that the use of ICTs can have a major influence on how youth conduct business, now and in the future. ICTs help make businesses more responsive to the diverse needs of individual business people and can help make the business environment more conducive to clients well being. ICT-based vocational training can also be useful in helping out of school youth especially the girl child who have not made it to higher institutions of learning acquire skills like operating and maintaining computer hardware as well as carrying out ICT related businesses.
Finding ways to increase the availability of and access to financial services among the youth in both Urban and rural areas is a huge challenge and requires among other things good knowledge of entrepreneurship investment opportunities as well as the particular needs of the youth. It is therefore held that understanding the place and role of ICTs in and Entrepreneurship- based developing countries depends on recognizing that;
- Knowledge is an increasingly significant factor of production
- All Actors in the Entrepreneurship sector are part of the evolving entrepreneurship system
- ICTs are essential coordinating mechanisms in global trade
It is also important to note that expanding the use if ICTs in entrepreneurship will demand a more active and empowered role of the youth who constitute the biggest population here in Uganda.
Deliberate Action to empower the Female Youth in Entrepreneurship Ventures.
Through one of Uganda Women Entreprenuership Associatiom Limited(UWEAL) programs: Girl Entreprenuership Program(GEP), awareness has been created about business and entrepreneurship in Secondary schools, Tertiary Institutions and Universities. Successful business women entrepreneurs visit these institutions and share their business experiences with the students and teachers. The main objective of this program is to inspire the young women to have an entrepreneurship spirit and start businesses of their own at an early age.
Other initiatives are being done privately and are yet to be documented.
Good practices in promoting Entrepreneurship Development among Young People
- Schemes that provide the youth with start up capital for business should be put in place and effected. In Uganda such schemes include “Entandikwa” “Bonabagagawale” among others
- Already established entrepreneurs should volunteer to mentor the upcoming ones who are interested in Business.
- Exhibitions and trade shows for the youth should be carried out more often and successful youth entrepreneurs should be invited to grace such shows.
- Awards should be given to successful youth Entrepreneurs as a way of motivating those who are still growing in their businesses.
- Entrepreneurship as a subject should be included in the study curriculum right from early stages in schools
The importance of ICTs to business is nothing new, and many traditional methods of managing and communicating information will continue to remain as crucial. ICTs will continue to improve and enhance social networking at community, regional and National levels which in turn will result into reduced costs, less time taken travelling and pursing markets. This will result into a positive impact not only at household level but also on improving the quality of business ventures among the Youth.
Article written by Janet c Achora