Diversifying from natural resources to harnessing entrepreneurial spirit


Every day, unemployed young people wander the streets of Uganda. Some are desperately looking for work. Others have given up hope.

While statistics vary, it has been reported that 64 per cent of Ugandans below the age of 30—including those educated—don’t have jobs. It’s one of the country’s most significant development problems, with millions out of work.

One research fellow who is optimistic his country can turn the corner is Australia Awards alumnus Corti Paul Lakuma.

Paul is an economic forecaster and adviser at an independent public policy think tank, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC). He provides evidence-based research and advice to government, academia and the private sector on how Uganda can diversify from natural resources and better manage its economy by being innovative in creating jobs for its large youth population.

Paul’s work draws on the skills and knowledge he gained through his Macro Management in Resource-Rich Countries Short Course Award, delivered by the Australian National University in 2017. While in Australia, Paul developed his skills as a strategic thinker.

‘The EPRC helps fill the void for quality, reliable research and policy analysis,’ Paul says. ‘Armed with the facts, Uganda can better formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate its policies. It can also shift from heavy reliance on natural resources to generating employment in new ways, including by stimulating young people’s entrepreneurial spirit.’

Uganda is offering some financing opportunities for young people to launch and run their businesses, with research indicating that providing capital and building the right knowledge and skills will support business start-ups to succeed.

Paul wrote about this passion in Financial inclusion and micro, small and medium enterprises growth in Uganda, published in the Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. His article detailed ways to adapt youth employment and training schemes, including through the Youth Venture Fund and Youth Employment Program.

Some of EPRC’s recommendations are already being implemented and being scaled up to facilitate skill development. Also, the third National Development Plan (in draft) has prioritised the creation of Regional Incubation Centres to support innovation in business growth and increase the pace of job creation.

Photo Credit: Corti Paul Lakuma

Feature from Alumni News Volume 28.

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