The Vice-President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, on January 24, closed the 20th annual youth conference at the UMA show grounds in Kampala, which was also attended by the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja, Janet Museveni. Below is his speech in full.
The 2007 World Development Report by the World Bank focuses on youth; which is indicative of the growing awareness among governments, development partners and civil society about the actual and potential roles the youth play in national development processes.
Indeed, target 16 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for the youth.
Hon. First Lady, ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this conference: 'A new Dawn: The youth as pillars for national development' is quite timely, relevant and appropriate for the youth of Uganda, who are the embodiment of our future and sustainability.
The youth who comprise 50% of Uganda's population represent in essence, the best efforts of our country's preparation for the future.
This conference should, therefore, have prepared you well:
To aspire for better living and prosperity.
To follow a culture of hard work and good use of opportunities and time.
To engage in constructive community activities.
To manage effectively any leadership roles that you may hold today as you prepare for leadership in future, to contribute positive ideas that advance your communities and country.
To show at all times, respect to your parents and seniors in society.
To be patriotic to your country.
The youth of Uganda are not alone in their quest to better their lives. In the person of the First Lady of Uganda, Hon.Janet Kataha Museveni, you have a passionate, visionary and loving mother who is always at hand to cushion your efforts.
As founder and patron of the Uganda Youth Forum since 1992, the First Lady has assisted you to evolve into the current powerful organisation you are proud to identify with today.
The NRM Government will continue to prioritise the youth as a key pillar for national development in Government planning, programming and budgeting.
The Government has always recognised that the large number of young people in Uganda is a tremendous asset for our country, as we walk the long journey of transforming Uganda from backwardness to modernity.
I would like to pay tribute to all the companies and organisations, which have supported this Annual National Youth Conference, 2013. Among these are Vision Group, FINCA Uganda Ltd, Quality Chemicals Ltd, Uganda Industrial Research Institute, NFA,
Mahdhivan Group, Fountain Publishers, KIBO Foundation, Naguru Teenage Centre and others.
Let me remind everybody that for this country to move forward fast in this hi-tech era, we need healthy youth.
As you leave this conference, therefore, you should always be mindful of the fact that HIV/AIDs is still lurking in our midst; it has no cure and it is you the youth who are the most vulnerable to this pandemic.
I, therefore, urge you to continue living responsibly and respectably wherever you will be so as to remain healthy, focused and productive.
It is now my honour and pleasure to officially declare the Annual National Youth Conference 2013, officially closed.
The writer is the vice-president of the Republic of Uganda