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Peter Kahiigi: MTN ACE Program Proves Youth Investment Pays Off

The MTN ACE program in its second phase is more committed than ever to empowering the youth to become innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the digital age.

Story Highlights
  • The MTN ACE program in its second phase is more committed than ever to empowering the youth to become innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the digital age.
  • The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicates that youth unemployment increased from 6.54% in 2021 to 6.58% in 2022.
  • The MTN ACE Program is aptly timed to support Uganda’s national aspirations, as outlined in the recently read National Budget for 2024/2025.
  • The MTN ACE Program targets Ugandans with innovative ideas that solve real-life problems across all sectors, focusing on the key priority areas of Uganda’s Vision 2040 — National Development Priorities

On Tuesday morning MTN Uganda’s corporate social responsibility arm, MTN Foundation launched its second phase of the MTN ACE program in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, the National ICT Innovation Hub, Centenary Technology Services, MUBS Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation Centre, and Engage Consult to equip youths with digital skills.

The three-year initiative, with an investment worth UGX4.5 billion, aims to create 150 startups and equip 8,000 youths with digital skills —transforming Uganda’s population into a digitally skilled workforce as the country positions itself to reap its dividend from the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

As noted by MTN Uganda’s CEO, Ms. Sylvia Mulinge, the MTN ACE program seamlessly aligns with MTN’s Ambition 2025 of leading digital solutions for Uganda’s progress and supporting the government’s development goals in the National Development Plan III and Vision 2040, especially in addressing the high youth unemployment rate—a challenge projected to grow as the population expands.

Like many other nations, youth unemployment in Uganda is alarmingly high. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicates that youth unemployment increased from 6.54% in 2021 to 6.58% in 2022. Moreover, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) notes that approximately 30% of institutionally qualified youths struggle to find jobs, with the situation being worse for semi-skilled and unskilled youths.

Peter Kahiigi, CTO at Centenary Technology Services (Cente-Tech), a subsidiary of Centenary Group, said “This is not just a statistic; it is a call to action.” “Our young people, brimming with potential and innovation, deserve more than the uncertainty of joblessness. They deserve the chance to contribute meaningfully to our society and economy.”

To take action on reducing the unemployment rate, Kahiigi said Cente-Tech will be upskilling the youth in tech-related innovations through the MTN ACE Enterprise —a program Centenary Technology Services will be implementing in this partnership.

“By nurturing tech talent, we are addressing the immediate issue of unemployment and laying the foundation for a future where Uganda is a hub of technological innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Kahiigi. “Every skill learned, every innovation developed, and every start-up launched translates into jobs created and lives transformed.”

The MTN ACE Enterprise is one of the three key areas the MTN ACE Program continues to focus on. The other two are MTN ACE Career which empowers fresh graduates with workplace skills and internship placements, and the MTN ACE Skills which is tailored for youths in or out of school, equipping them with entrepreneurial skills to start businesses.

With Uganda’s first oil expected in 2025, there will be immense opportunities in the minerals and energy sector. Kahiigi revealed that Cente-Tech is committed to seeking partnerships within this sector to open up more opportunities for the youth. “This sector is poised for significant growth, and we aim to ensure that our youth are well-prepared to take advantage of the jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities that will arise,” he said.

Kahiigi urged the youth to sign up (JOIN FROM HERE) for the MTN ACE Programs —highly emphasizing how the program is their chance to ignite their potential.

“The MTN ACE Program is not just about providing skills and opportunities, it’s about empowering you to realize your dreams and ambitions. We believe that every young person in Uganda has the potential to make a difference, to innovate, and to lead,” Kahiigi goes on to elaborate. “This is your moment to shine, to turn your ideas into reality, and to contribute to the development of our nation. As we ignite your potential, we are lighting the path toward a brighter future for all of us.”

In his concluding remarks, Kahiigi said together with their partners, they are dedicated to ensuring that the objectives of the MTN ACE Program are not just met but exceeded. ” I would like to express my excitement and optimism about the future we are building together,” Kahiigi tells their partners. “The MTN ACE Program is a testament to what we can achieve when we invest in our youth.”

Partners of the second phase of the MTN ACE program pose for a group photo after the launch event held at the National ICT Innovation Hub in Nakawa.
Partners of the second phase of the MTN ACE program pose for a group photo after the launch event held at the National ICT Innovation Hub in Nakawa.

The first phase of the MTN ACE program which has been running since December 2022, saw 185 youths graduate across three distinct programs; MTN ACE Tech, MTN ACE Career program, and MTN ACE Skills program. Additionally, 20 enterprises were selected for ACE Tech acceleration, and 15 for incubation, demonstrating the program’s significant impact on nurturing youth skills and enterprises.

With UGX4.5 billion earmarked for the second phase, a bigger reach is promised.

The MTN ACE Program is aptly timed to support Uganda’s national aspirations, as outlined in the recently read National Budget for 2024/2025. The budget highlights the critical need for economic empowerment and inclusion, particularly for our youth.

This program targets Ugandans with innovative ideas that solve real-life problems across all sectors, focusing on the key priority areas of Uganda’s Vision 2040 — National Development Priorities. These areas include Agriculture, Tourism & Trade, Minerals & Energy, Health, Education, Refugee/Host Communities, and the Justice, Law & Order sector. It aligns perfectly with our national goals, offering a pathway to economic self-reliance and prosperity.

ALSO READ: MTN INVESTS UGX4.5BN IN THE SECOND PHASE OF MTN ACE PROGRAM

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