MTN Uganda’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm, MTN Foundation, has today launched a nationwide youth-centered economic empowerment initiative dubbed the MTN ACE.
The MTN ACE initiative was launched in Kampala at the National ICT Innovation hub under the theme “Digital Skills for digital jobs”. This timely campaign comes at a time when many youths are faced with a year-on-year soaring unemployment challenge as highlighted by the most recent (2021) world bank report. Further studies indicate that 77% of Uganda is under the age of 30 and its population is set to double by 2060. There are not enough jobs available. Youth unemployment is already high and is indicated to rise as the population grows.
It is against this background that MTN Foundation Uganda and its partners have introduced the MTN ACE program aimed at tackling the issue of youth unemployment in supplement of all the other government efforts. The initiative targets a wide base of youths in Uganda including; fresh graduates, those in and out of school, innovators, entrepreneurs well as tech-driven start-ups. This is all aimed at nurturing an all-around workforce with the requisite skills for the 21st-century job market, as well as generating a pool of job creators in an effort to alleviate the current unemployment dilemma that the youth in Uganda are currently facing.
MTN ACE initiative brings to the public three MTN Foundation programs which include; the MTN ACE Tech program which focuses on upskilling the youth interested in tech-related innovations under which MTN has also equipped the national ICT hub with state-of-the-art equipment to allow innovators to prototype and incubate their ideas into a feasible business.
The second program under the initiative is the MTN ACE Career program which seeks to empower fresh graduates with workplace skills and internship placement, and lastly is the MTN ACE Skills program which is tailor-made for the youths who are in or out of school to equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
The MTN foundation has earmarked UGX 1.5 billion towards this initiative for the year 2023 in line with their corporate social responsibility agenda aimed at impacting the livelihoods of the communities MTN operates.
The MTN ACE initiative is an invention of the MTN Uganda Foundation, executed in partnership with; the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, The National ICT Innovation Hub, Centenary Technology Services, Refactory, MUBS Entrepreneurship Innovation, and Incubation Centre, as well as MTN’s Fintech subsidiary, MTN MoMo Uganda Limited.
Speaking at the launch of the multi-billion MTN ACE campaign, Sylvia Mulinge the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer expressed MTN’s commitment towards empowering the youth, especially considering the soaring levels of unemployment in the country.
“This multi-pronged campaign will offer opportunities to a cross-section of the youth of this country and empower them on their various career journeys. They shall be able to get hands-on training for job placements as well as the much-needed digital skills to help them flourish in their various careers as well as innovate ideas that would allow them to start businesses that might even become global,” She said, “I thank all our partners who have made this vision a reality,” Mulinge said, noting that it will require a concerted effort to deal with the unemployment issue in Uganda.
Hon. Joyce Ssebugwawo, the State Minister of ICT lauded MTN Uganda and its partners for the critical campaign that is crucial to bridging the digital skills gap in the country as it further positions itself for the 4th industrial revolution.
“ICT skills are at the heart of Uganda’s development agenda. We believe that by empowering the youth to harness the digital era, Uganda shall be able to earn its share of the digital dividend in the near future. I urge the youth out there to seize this opportunity,” Hon Ssebugwawo said.
Dr Aminah Zawedde, Permanent Secretary Ministry of ICT & National Guidance commended MTN for implementing the national initiative.’ I am happy about today because it’s a testament to what happens when Government and private sector partner, effectively partner. In MTN Uganda and Centenary Technology Services, we have started a solid partnership that will contribute to developing a digitally experienced and empowered society to spur innovation and productivity of our people, organizations, businesses and government. Importantly, through this increased productivity, employment opportunities for our young people will be created,’ Dr Aminah remarked.
‘I encourage our youth across the country to use this opportunity to unlock their potential through digital skills,’ Dr Aminah concluded.
Peter Kahiigi, Centenary Technology Service’s Chief Technology Officer commenting after the launch of MTN ACE said, ‘MTN ACE will help SMEs access digital skills and close the digital skills gap. These newly acquired skills will be build the resilience of these SMEs.’
‘After today, we shall implement a national incubation and acceleration program that will change the lives of 80 companies across Uganda. This program will include training, incubation and acceleration,’ Kahiigi added.
MUBS’ Entrepreneurship expert, Dr. Diana Ntamu also urged the youth to seize this opportunity to improve their odds of finding employment as well as advancing their careers. She particularly lauded the MTN ACE Career Program which shall enable fresh graduates to acquire necessary hands-on skills that shall enable them find suitable employment upon completion.