By Paul Ndiho
Uganda like most countries in Sub – Saharan Africa has a youthful population; about 62 percent of the youth are unemployed according to Action Aid Uganda. But this is about to change, as the country expands its Business Process Outsourcing centers with an aim to employ over 4,000 young people in the country.
Uganda is working to increase business opportunities in the country that can benefit millions of unemployed youth. Under its National Business Process Outsourcing (OR BPO) center programs, the country recently launched a call center in Kampala that will provide jobs for over 200 young people.
It’s one of the many centers the government hopes will also position Uganda as a major global competitor in providing customer solutions for businesses.
Organizations are increasingly using off-shore customer call centers like this one, believed to be more cost effective in managing their customer services.
Techno Brain is one of the companies taking advantage of the new business opportunity.
Ivan Kahangire, is the organizations Enterprise Solutions Business Development Manager.
“When you look at the market for BPO and IT enabled services, it is really, really huge, according to a KPMG report earlier this year, they projected that this market for BPO and IT enabled services world over is going to be approximately 950 billion US dollars, now that is a huge market for us to tap into and among other players in Africa and when you look at the statistics again from ministry of gender about the unemployed youth, it is staggering, 400,000 youth are churned out to the job market every year and there are only 9,000 jobs available for them.”
Uganda hopes to attract more graduates and trained professionals to take up jobs in its outsourcing market. The center is housed on three floors and agents provide services for clients from around the world in various languages including French and Kinyarwanda.
With about 62 percent of Uganda’s youth said to be unemployed, new recruits at the center like Moses Oteba say the business program is a welcome development in creating more jobs in the country.
“The level of unemployment is very high, I wouldn’t say we earn that much here but it is better to be in here than to be out there doing nothing, this is a great opportunity to make some money, it is very terrible, the level of unemployment it is very painful, it pinches and as a result guys get exploited and they do the worst, they do the least they could ever do.”
Like in many African cities, Kampala’s growing young population is becoming a threat to the government as joblessness and crime spiral.
Education consultant, Fagil Mandy says that while providing youth with education and employment can help deter crime, the country’s education system hardly prepares students enough for the job market.
“The national curriculum development center has just found out that our school leavers up to a certain level lack employable skills, so that is another problem including the attitudes, so that is another one, the attitude itself, so for me I think that is another problem, one that the school system is not equipping these new worker in inverted comas with the right competitive skills and knowledge and attitudes.”
Across town, young men like Geoffrey Wako, a trained teacher decided to start his “BODA – BODA” taxi business, ferrying passengers around Kampala, after failing to find employment in the formal sector. Now HE is looking for customers at a nearby motorbike taxi stop.
“It was about two years that I was looking for a job, so after which I gave up because I was tired, I had wasted my money, my energy, my time and there was nothing yielding, so I had to give up. That’s when also this one came in, that is when I started developing the urge of joining BodaBoda (motorbike taxi) business.
The World Bank is pushing the east African county to diversify its economic production and process more of its raw produce locally to be able to absorb the growing number of unemployed youth.
The country’s labor force has been growing at above 4 percent annually, according to the World Bank but is likely to add about 10 million potential workers into the labor market by 2020.