Collage of graduates during the virtual graduation ceremony organized by the MTN Foundation and Ubunifu systems

Sixty  youth have successfully graduated having attained digital and technical skills in the first cohort of the MTN Foundation youth skilling program.

The MTN Foundation youth skilling program is an initiative funded by MTN Foundation Uganda and implemented by Ubunifu systems aimed at inspiring and empowering youth with the goal of creating practical ICT driven solutions to challenges in society.

The program, which kicked off in December 2020 received nearly 2000 applications but only targeted 100 youth from university graduates, Small and medium enterprises and young innovators.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony held during an online webinar, The MTN General Manager Corporate services and Legal, Enid Edroma who was representing the MTN CEO congratulated the youth upon the accomplishment urging them to use the skills attained to improve their society.

“These graduands are not your ordinary people. They were picked out of 1900 applicants for the training. This was not a chance occurrence because within each one of you are certain special qualities that helped identify you as the right candidates and these include, the passion which we saw through your applications. We also noticed your resilience and positive outlook to life and its challenges,” Edroma said.

Edroma highlighted the resilience of the youth who quickly adapted to online training when the pandemic hit and interrupted the program.

The MTN youth skilling program which was entirely conducted online employed a three pronged approach tackling digital and technical skills as well as an incubation phase for aspiring entrepreneurs focused on four thematic areas including agriculture, health, education and youth empowerment.

Addressing the effect of the pandemic especially on the education sector, Edroma said covid-19 has accelerated the advancement and adoption of technology.

She however also noted that there are still gaps that need to be plugged especially in the lower education segments.

“There are areas that can still be better for instance primary and secondary education. It would be nice to see that segment also move into the digital space which will demonstrate the value of digitisation,” she said.

Edroma was reiterated by Brian Mbasa, the senior manager MTN Foundation who said the objective of the program is to empower youth to establish businesses which will have a trickle-down effect by employing other youth in society.

He explained that this is the first of many editions of the MTN youth skilling program as a new edition will kick off in January next year.

Sylvester Nyombi, the brand and communications manager, Ubunifu systems said the program enjoyed a diversity of youth having drawn people from 86 districts, with a high level of female participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Nagawa Hajara, one of the female graduates in the program said she has attained various skills which have been instrumental in aiding her establish her agribusiness training center.

The graduation ceremony was graced with various dignitaries from the ICT sector such as Micheal Niyitegeka, International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) Africa country director and Kenneth Muhangi, advisor at ministry of ICT, who awarded certificates of excellence to the graduands.

The guest of honour, Honorable Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs commended MTN and Ubunifu systems for the initiative of skilling youth explaining that this has contributed a lot to improving the quality of labour in the country.

She also said that despite existence of similar government programs geared towards skilling the youth for example the youth livelihood program, there is still a need for extra support from the private sector. 

“Demand for affordable credit to support the youth to establish viable businesses is very high compared to the available funds I therefore appeal to the private sector to keep supporting us and implementing government programs,” she urged.

Hon Mateke said the program is timely and will be acknowledged during her first 100 days in office as the country prepares to celebrate the international youth day on August 12.

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