According to the 2016 Uganda Demographic Survey, the youth in Uganda form the highest
population, with about 78% being under the age of 30 years. It is therefore important to
understand that the youth groups are so large that they are not just an interest group - it is
the country! They present huge challenges and opportunities for our country.
As UNNGOF, our work is hinged on the premise of less complaining and more around
finding solutions and answers to key citizen challenges; in this case, the youth of this
country and the issues and challenges they face. As the majority of the population, their
problems are valid and therefore the whole country should be concerned about.
It’s against this background that UNNGOF under its Philanthropy for Development
Programme partnered with Open Space Center to undertake the 9 th Annual Youth Festival
from 22 nd – 23 rd August, 2023. Organized under the theme “Your Story Matters” the festival
sought to celebrate the incredible power and significance of the youths’ narratives.
Speaking during the festival, a celebrated investigative journalist - Canary Mugume
emphasized that stories are a way of creating awareness and have immense power
towards calling for dialogue. “Our stories aren't just for impressing, but to guide future
generations, thus sparking inspiration” He said. Canary, who started his journalist career at
the age of nine, on radio West 100.2 FM, encouraged the youths to seize all the available
opportunities especially technology to better their lives.
Ms. Jamila Mayanja, the CEO Smart Girls Foundation stressed “Never underestimate the
power of your story. Your story may uplift someone else but most importantly, your own
story might change you, so never underestimate the power of your story or your voice”
At the closure of the festival, Dr. Moses Isooba, the UNNGOF Executive Director
emphasized the need for the country to leverage youth potential to spur Uganda’s
transformation. “For quite some time, we’ve celebrated resources we have got from external
donors and that’s very good, but we think we can redefine development through the kind of
resources we can mobilize amongst ourselves. Looking at the work/innovations that youths
exhibited during this festival, you definitely see we are sitting on a goldmine of ideas,
resources, talents, knowledge, networks and the more we are able to leverage these
resources, the more we can trigger community voice and power and therefore triggering
citizen agency; and as young people there is nothing more important than being a person
who can determine your own destiny”