President Yoweri Museveni brightened the International Youth Day for Ugandan youth by pledging to build a leather factory at Kawumu village. The factory will prioritize the youth while recruiting for different job categories.
In 1999, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
International Youth Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
The president said it is odd that with so many heads of cattle (14 million) in Uganda, there isn’t any significant value addition to the key product of hides which would create a lot of employment in downstream activities.
These start in the slaughterhouse where proper slaughtering greatly preserves the quality and of the hides and enhances their market price.
The activities include the hides treatment, tanning and manufacturing of leather products. Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides of animals to produce leather.
Available information at the Uganda Investment Authority indicates a huge employment potential by the leather industry. Domestic demand for footwear for example was 25 million pairs in 2017 of which only one million was produced locally, the rest being imported mostly from China.
Yet Uganda is among the top four exporters of hides and skins from Africa, barely earning fifty million dollars from the process.
Besides shoes, other leather products required by the Uganda market include belts, handbags and wallets. The East African Community to which Uganda can sell its leather products free of duties has an annual demand of some $600 million.
Museveni also encouraged the youth to take up fish farming that the government is currently promoting and is ready to support. He said that besides the youth funds channeled through the Gender ministry, Parliament can provide more funding for youth investment.
During the celebrations, the national youth executives present informed the president of their plight that was magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic as many of them were laid off by employers.