As many Ugandans fear the coronavirus pandemic is evolving from a health crisis into a financial crisis, shuttering businesses, up-ending industries and NGO’s, and placing the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. The question is; how is Uganda going to deal and cope with the sudden sharp/steep rise in unemployment? And should we expect more job losses this year?
Apparently, the after effects of this pandemic (COVID-19) could be even more deadly than the virus itself. There is no plan on governments in some countries to restructure their economies to cope with the economic fallout. Uganda is no exception to the global unemployment statistics, although Uganda has a very unique situation from the rest of the world, the unemployment statistics for Uganda are misleading. In reality, according to the World Bank Ugandans, and especially young Ugandans, are highly likely to be underemployed, in precarious and non-rewarding work, or in jobs that cannot offer decent incomes. 83.5% of the Ugandan population aged between 15-29 work in informal jobs, and that figure is 10% higher for young women than men.
Uganda was plunged into as many challenges as is of now and will be after the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is facing crucial systemic barriers that limit economic growth and job creation, among these is an unfavorable business climate, characterized by an often-prohibitive cost of doing business, and limited access to start-up or scale-up capital.
It has been termed as the new normal, but the truth is, it is not normal and its nothing like it. The disease itself, the massive job losses and more so the blown-up economy of Uganda makes things not normal at all. The government is throwing enormous amount of money at the problem (COVID-19) but it is impossible to calculate the human cost of this catastrophe.
Many young Ugandans who have been employed have either been underemployed or informally employed and this time the number will increase traumatically. The government is and will really not be concerned about those who have and will lose their jobs because they’re trying to save the drowned economy. But what does the cost of being out of work mean for an average Ugandan youth? First, it affects their standard of living, it affects their self-esteem, their mental health is affected because of staying at home. With corruption at its peak in the country, there is no hope for a young graduate to be back to the employment platform. It is obvious the government can not support the entire nation’s youth to get back up, get businesses operating again, because it does not need to bare this burden.
As painful as it has become for thousands of individuals and families, lifting the lockdown measures would actually make things worse off. It will get out of control if the government rushes to lift the lockdown, therefore, the measures need to be done slowly and carefully not to add salt to the big wound of unemployment. However, many Ugandans have become too impatient for things to get back to normal, no one wants to stay at home anymore. But where are they going? to work? Which work? The size of the shock of this pandemic has been too large that most people are going to be left struggling, homeless and broken for like 2-3 years to come before we can look at something like really back to normal. There is no positive news for Ugandans because the economy is in no better state compared to like 6 months ago. The future is unprecedented and looks like the blown-up economy’s fiscal response is comparably not known.