“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela
Unemployment in Northern Uganda
As mentioned in “Pam’s Story” the high rate of unemployment in Northern Uganda seems mind boggling, especially to Americans. However, clarity occurs when one considers the indigent conditions Africans have lived in through centuries of subjugation. It is their conditions of extreme poverty, more than anything else, that provides the seedbed for evil and conspiring men to incite wars and insurrections. In the process, whatever infrastructure or natural resources the area has are often destroyed. That has certainly been the case in Northern Uganda.
Since civil war in northern Uganda ended less than 10 years ago, there remain three key factors why jobs are sparse, resulting in epidemic unemployment:
- Jobs are scarce in Gulu (the war’s epicenter) because of decades of upheaval through Joseph Kony and his nefarious Lord’s Resistance Army that completely destroyed the area’s infrastructure. Today most jobs are government jobs; when one position becomes available, 400 people may apply for it. In most instances an actual interview is obtained through bribery which still does not assure any positive outcome because often the position has been filled by a friend or relative of those in charge of the hiring process. Uganda’s national government is trying to fix this problem, but it still prevails.
- It is possible to start a business, but that takes capital that most Ugandans don’t have. Interest rates on traditional small business bank loans are extremely high (23 – 25%; See http://ugbusiness.com/1264/commercial-banks-cut-lending-rates-but-cautiously). Loan sharks abound, preying on beguiled Ugandan borrowers. In some instances, a loan may be made outside a banking institution, but the loan may be a set-up, and the borrower is then robbed by a third party of their property or money.
- Some businesses offer “internship” programs where a man or woman can work for several months with a stated intent that if the volunteer does good work, he or she may be hired. The business or company will offer a small stipend, such as 3,000 shillings (81 cents) a day–not enough for them to live on–but desperate people with no work beg for these jobs. The interns are exploited, often never receiving the promised stipend, and the business has no incentive to hire them because another “intern” will come begging for an opportunity to work.
It’s For Africa! is committed to assisting thoroughly vetted Africans through micro-loans, scholarships for better education, and self-sustaining enterprises as essential steps to change the employment climate in northern Uganda, as well as all of Africa.