By Paul Ndiho
Ugandans from Southwestern Uganda under the umbrella organization “International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB) recently gathered in Washington DC for their 11th annual convention. This year’s theme was “Innovations and entrepreneurship for youth employment in Uganda.
The organization attracts Ugandans from Southwestern Uganda based in the United States, Europe and Canada. Anne Karasanyi is one of the organizers.
“We’re focusing on youth employment because we want to focus on how we create employment for the youth, and how we can teach them to be entrepreneurs.”
The annual event is dynamic; it supports Ugandan culture, vocational, business and technical training of young Banyakigezi through the creation of institutes of excellence.
It also incubates ideas and addresses key issues concerning Kigezi region. Dr. Denis Akankunda Bwesigye was one of the presenters and was concerned about Uganda’s rapid population growth.
“I am somebody that deeply feels for population growth rates in Uganda, I feel like the government is not doing enough to help our people to make formal choices and have families that they can educate, they can afford to treat, they can feed and can help to shape their dreams and futures.”
Other topics on the agenda included how to empower women and girls and how to create jobs for young people in Uganda. Maureen Tuhairwe, an independent investment analyst, wants to empower ordinary farmers.
“I’m interested in investing across the agriculture value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa to help with community development”
Dr. Moses Kamya, an IT specialist, based in New York said there are many ways to empower young people. One-way is to get them acclimated with IT skills.
“A lot of young people use smartphones. I can say that the smart phones are the most powerful information technology devices that exist today. Young people using this device are finding ways of applying technology in a lot of areas that actually help their lives and those of the communities in which they live.”
There were exciting displays of fashion, arts and crafts, book authors and countless other activities.
” The presentations we had at this convention were beyond my expectations. They actually blew my mind.” Says Nick Nteireho.
Grace another fashion designer showcased her creations.
“I’m a fashion designer and entrepreneur. I’m here to showcase what I make. This kind of dress is actually made from all the materials we have. We cut pieces together and stitch the parts together to make this kind of dress.”
The convention guests capped off the day by sitting down with family and friends to enjoy a grand fundraising dinner that included cultural performances and live music.
The group also prides itself as a non-partisan group and tries as much as possible to steer clear from politics. But some critics used this opportunity to criticize the Ugandan government. However, government representatives countered these claims. Robert Kabushenga, CEO, Vision Group, said that Uganda was one of the safest countries in East Africa. Jim Muhwezi, another government representative and Member of Parliament from Rujumbura, Rukungiri district, Uganda, echoed the same sentiments and said that that the government was committed to taking the country to another level.
“ The government is putting most of the money in infrastructure development, in electricity, in roads, railway, and clean water.etc.
Ugandans from different parts of Kigezi region in Southwestern Uganda represented their districts at the convention as they danced the night away.