Thank you @Mlambo Sam for this very insightful comment. These are not just your concerns; they are our concerns too. We appreciate this feedback and it helps us to think through on some of these issues and others that act as barrier to our work as storytellers. It's true that there is media restriction in Uganda but it is also very true that Uganda scores high in the region on the issue of media privatisation and media freedom. While media in some countries is only state owned, any investor can establish a media company in Uganda. The environment may not be friendly for journalists in the country; however, it is not different from any other country in the region. Journalists continue to operate on even very sensitive issues that are reported daily in the papers, online, radio and TV. However, this is not to say that we do not experience abuse of press rights.
Does that mean we stop empowering journalists? In my honest opinion our work must continue. This is because we need journalists that are empowered to not only report about the wrong in the country but also tell the good stories of the country. It is true Uganda produces 400,000 graduates every year and this is a representative of all the courses. Journalism is one of those many courses. The reasons why people don’t get employed is not because there is entirely no opportunities for them. We believe that lack of employable skills contributes highly to graduate unemployment and we believe that if you are good enough with the required market skills, there is always a place for you in the industry. In addition, Sam we may be over optimistic here but we believe the unemployment gap can be bridged when we HAVE graduates who possess the required skills but can also kick start their employment opportunities, just like we are doing here. Currently it is reported that we have over or around 200 fm stations in the country and around 20 TV stations. These and other media platforms face restrictions like any other media environment but they continue to provide employment opportunities for our growing youth who are enthusiastic about telling our stories. Given that our media landscape has freedom for investors to start new business, we know that the media industry is one of the profitable areas that people want to invest in.
However, such opportunities must find a prepared human resource in place that can take advantage of this space. This is why we exist to prepare our young people to not only work in the media industry but also to work in any other field. We are also aware of young media entrepreneurs who are starting platforms online taking advantage of the growing internet in the country. The next generation of journalists and storyteller as you also know will take advantage of online platforms if they cannot get media space in the traditional media. It is not true that Government is not on our side. The government understands the fundamental role of journalists and despite the press rights abuse in the country, government continues to work hand in hand with media houses. We actually work with the Government under the Ministry of Information in our projects because the government understands the value of grooming the next generation of journalists. I am confident that we will continue working with the government. Sam you also ask a very pertinent question. You want to know where we see ourselves in 5 years, including our beneficiaries given the trend you stated. We deal with the present and we work on the now as a team. I wish I could say I DON’T KNOW because as you know trends change and you never know what plans every one of our beneficiaries has. In reality I don’t know what will happen, but I will share with you our dream. When we started in 2012, we did not know we could make it to 2016 and that we could have over 3000 young people who will have gone through our projects. We would never have predicted that we would have over 50 young people who work on radio, TV and print papers just because of our work. We never predicted we would finally have an academy where we have now trained 70 journalism students since June. Now given our progress, our dream is to create a movement of young journalists in country and region who believe in solutions and knowledge-based journalism; a generation of storytellers who will tell the real Uganda, East African or African story with a local context and narrative. Are we sure of employment opportunities for our products? YES! Our project is need based and we have studied what is missing in the media industry. From our research, it is not the lack of opportunities. It is the lack of employable skills required by the media industry that is a big cause of unemployment. This is why we are applying for Students and Radio Station so that we can employ, train and students can LEARN AND EARN. Again Sam, thank you so much for these concerns. These are also our concerns TOO and we continue to work on these issues.