The event centred around #CreativeTalksAfrica sessions where discussants debated issues pertaining to youth in Uganda.
Representatives from urban and rural Uganda were present, as were NGOs, civil society, influencers and activists. Common for all, they had all made their way to Kampala to start a conversation with the anticipating crowd of young people – with backgrounds in the arts, social activism and the slums of Kampala – on this year's theme 'Safe Spaces for Youth'. The theme was moulded by the EU Delegation in Kampala to more effectively address the reality youth in Uganda face: being one of the youngest populations in the world, having one of the highest youth unemployment rates and having varying degrees of access to socio-economic empowerment and support.
The event was initiated by the European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda, H.E Ambassador Attilio Pacifici, who praised Design Hub as a safe space for youth. The Hub serves as a business incubator for guidance, consultation and networking, which has the potential to create sustainable jobs and allow youth to express their ideas and identity. However, this potential does not automatically translate into equitable opportunities for youth. While many interventions are made by Government, NGOs and development partners, reality is that interventions often disproportionally benefit more urban-based youth. As Ambassador Pacifici noted in his remarks, "this is a striking contradiction with the reality of 80% of youth in Uganda living in rural areas".
While the EU has been a committed development partner to Uganda for decades, efforts still need to be directed much better in the future. The EU must be better at promoting the setting up of supportive networks where youth can come together and share experiences and knowledge that extends past urban centres and certain demographics.
My key message is that the main stakeholders need to create a nation-wide environment in which youth can thrive. Are you [Uganda youth] doing this?" Ambassador Pacifici said. Sharing knowledge, experiences and opportunities create the foundation for small enterprises to expand into large ones that may support the creation or expansion of other small enterprises. By creating this form of mutually beneficial networks, development benefits youth all across the country, and, as the Ambassador recognized, allows for the 32 million youth in Uganda to become the leaders of tomorrow.
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