Uganda’s First Lady Mrs. Janet Museveni has asked youths to use ICT to fight HIV/Aids as well as harness technology to create business and entrepreneurial skills for development. While closing the annual National Youth Conference this week, she called upon the youth to use all means available to influence their fellow peers to adopt risk-avoidance behavior and desist from engaging in practices that may predispose them to the risk of acquiring HIV/Aids.
“We should take lead and more responsibility in addressing these challenges at our levels through the available means of information dissemination like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, radio stations, TV stations,” she said in a speech delivered on her behalf by the minister for presidency Frank Tumwebaze. Mrs. Museveni emphasized that ICT continues to be a big solution to Uganda and to the entire world especially in the areas of unemployment, continued fight against HIV/Aids and security.
With 700 youths in attendance at the conference held at Uganda Manufactures Association (UMA) hall in Kampala, she promised to continue supporting efforts aimed at improving standard of living among young people in Uganda. “I am very confident that you will implement what you learnt during this conference. I challenge you to use ICT to innovate and find solutions in agribusiness, health, tourism and other key sectors of our economy,” she said in her speech. The participants were, among other things, equipped with ICT skills trained by experts from the Uganda Communications Commission. They received great knowledge from various speakers who made their presentations under the theme: ‘Harnessing Youth Potential and innovation through ICT’.
Mrs. Museveni encouraged the young population to pursue access to accurate and relevant information for the betterment of their lives, families, communities and the nation at large. She hailed the organizers of the conference – Uganda Youth Forum and their partner, Intel Corporation – for their work in reaching out to Ugandan youth.
Meanwhile, the general manager, Intel- East Africa, Dani Styen said they are planning to build partnerships with various stakeholders in Uganda to train more people especially women and girls in rural areas in using ICT to market their businesses and products. On his part, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) boss Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi said Uganda’s performance in ICT in Africa is highly ranked and clients easily get licensed compared to other countries. Mutabazi pointed out that efforts are being made to train more youths as the commission (UCC) establishes more ICT laboratories countrywide. “The commission is planning to address challenges of appropriate local content of information especially pornography and fighting cybercrime,” he added. Internet penetration in Uganda has grown steadily since the deregulation and liberalization of the ICT sector in 1997.
The most dramatic development in telecommunications in the last decade has been the growth of mobile phone subscribers from less than one million in 2001 to more than 14 million in 2011. Uganda is ranked among the ten African countries with the highest number of mobile phone subscribers. However, more men than women use the Internet. Globally, 37% of all women are online compared to 41% of all men. The gender gap is more pronounced in the developing world where 16% fewer women than men use the internet compared with only 2% of fewer women than men in the developed world.