WILFRED ARINDA NSHEKA; Amplifying the Roar: Empowering Youth Spaces to Shape Uganda’s Future

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the National Youth Symposium organized by the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy in Uganda (NIMD) alongside young leaders representing the diverse landscape of Ugandan politics. This gathering served as a powerful testament to the ambition and passion of Uganda’s young generation, particularly when it comes to shaping the future of our nation.

This passion stems from an undeniable reality: over 70% of Uganda’s population falls under the age of 35. We are the present and future custodians of this country. However, during the symposium, a stark contrast emerged. We learned that despite boasting over 80 ministers, not a single individual among them belongs to the youth demographic. This disparity extends to the Ministry of Youth itself, currently led by someone outside the youth age group.

Such discrepancies highlight the critical need for platforms like the National Youth Symposium. These spaces foster an environment where young people can raise their voices and engage in meaningful dialogue on issues impacting them and the nation as a whole.

One might point to existing initiatives like the Parish Development Model, Youth Livelihood Program, Emyooga, and Operation Wealth Creation, all aiming to empower youth. However, these programs often benefit a small fraction of the young population, leaving the vast majority feeling unheard and lacking agency. Additionally, the National Youth Council, with its meager budget and potential impending merger, struggles to effectively represent and advocate for youth voices.

The National Youth Symposium served as a catalyst, sparking a powerful question: what if similar platforms were established across the country? Imagine the collective energy and innovative ideas that would erupt from young Ugandans in such spaces. Imagine open discussions about crucial topics like governance, anti-corruption efforts, succession planning, and human rights – conversations that currently seem absent from designated youth forums. Perhaps their absence is not accidental, which might explain the recent rise of independent youth movements across the country.

The question remains: who will serve as the catalyst for amplifying youth voices? Social media currently offers the sole platform for many, but its use often strays from constructive purposes.

A recent Twitter campaign, dubbed “X,” shed light on the rampant mismanagement within the Ugandan parliament. These revelations, ranging from illegal staff recruitment to dubious deals and questionable financial practices, demand urgent attention and discussion in dedicated youth spaces – spaces that currently do not exist, but desperately need to.

The time has come for the youth of Uganda to become vocal participants in shaping the future of our nation. Only by speaking out can we recognize our true strength as the majority. In the upcoming 2026 elections, young voters will constitute a significant force. It’s time for this majority to claim their voice and shape the national discourse. We are the sleeping lion that needs a whip to awaken and roar with a unified voice.

The writer is the LC5 Male Youth Councillor for Rubanda District.
Email. wilfredarinda@gmail.com