Uganda faces a critical youth unemployment crisis. With 78% of the population under 35 years old, the country has a large and fast-growing youth demographic. However, opportunities are not keeping pace. In Lwengo district, 6.6% of youth ages 18-30 are disconnected — neither working nor in school. Nationally, 47% of youth are unemployed and inactive. Even for those with jobs, half lack the education their roles require.
This crisis exacts socioeconomic costs. Unemployed youth become dependent, fuel mental health issues, and cannot contribute productivity to support economic growth. Ultimately, unemployment denies youth the chance to use their talents and ambitions.
To empower youth, Uganda urgently needs solutions that provide work opportunities. One approach is establishing youth innovation centers focused on four priorities:
- Business incubation to help youth develop ideas into companies
- Accelerator programs to rapidly grow startups with high potential
- Skills training aligned to market needs
- Mentorship and access to capital so youth can launch ventures
With these evidence-based solutions, youth innovation centers can activate talent, spark business creation, provide jobs, and set young people up for lifelong success. Additionally, they offer a model that can scale across Uganda to tap into the promise of youth for national development. Addressing this crisis is not just of economic necessity but also a moral mandate to empower young generations to fully use their talents.