East African Institute
Uganda is the most youthful country in East Africa. The median age is estimated at about 16 years, and about 80 % of the population is below the age of 35 years.
Uganda’s youth, defined as individuals between the ages of 18 and 35, will determine and shape the country’s future. With that in mind, the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University commissioned a survey to understand the values, attitudes, concerns and aspirations of this critical segment of the population.
We interviewed 1,854 respondents aged 18–35 years from across the country, including both urban and rural areas. The survey reveals a number of important and sometimes surprising insights, and offers reasons both for optimism, deep concern and the need for urgent action.
There is a strong esprit de corps among the youth, with 35% identifying first as youth. They value faith, hard work and family. The youth are entrepreneurial, with the majority aspiring to start their own business, rather than pursue careers in law, teaching, medicine or engineering. Although agriculture is one of the leading sectors in Uganda accounting for 23% of the GDP, 30% of total exports and 65% of raw materials for local industries only 12% of the youth want to become farmers.
The study reveals that while youth are suffering from and concerned about unemployment, they are willing to be part of the solution by creating jobs through entrepreneurship. The study also reveals that many hold beliefs that make them vulnerable to corruption and political manipulation and that risk undermining democracy and good governance.
While the findings may seem contradictory – hopeful and depressing – there is an opportunity to focus on developing and channeling the strongly held positive values of faith, family, hard work. The strongly held values of faith, family, hard work and entrepreneurship must be leveraged to address the crisis integrity as well as the challenge of unemployment among the youth.
Overall, Uganda youth are positive and optimistic about the future and are confident that it will be more prosperous, offering more jobs and better access to health and education. What would it take to deliver opportunity and shared prosperity for the youth?
Awiti, A. (2016). The Uganda Youth Survey Report.
Available at: http://ecommons.aku.edu/eastafrica_eai/18
Full data from the survey can be accessed here
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