There was commotions on Thursday 17 in the afternoon in Gulu town when an angry team of youth stormed a meeting organized by Inspire Africa, a coffee consumption entity with district leaders and official from the office of the Prime Minister – OPM.
The meeting held at Gulu district council hall, was to provide opportunity for the founder of Inspire Africa, Mr Nelson Tugume to the registered youths, district officials and office of the prime minister on how it will operate.
However, the meeting soon went into ruckus.
This was after Daniel Dan Rackara, an activist during his remarks alleges Tugume for turning public funded project personal. He stated that youth recruited has been working for a year without contract and salary yet the project was meant to provide jobs for them.
Rackara also accused the founder for erecting weak building using already dumped construction materials by the district yet the project has been fully funded by government through OPM.
He says Inspire Africa is an imposed project on the youth and yet Gulu youth are not part and partial of the project as the working documents state.
John Bosco Uhuru, the former NRM contestant for northern youth member of Parliament demanded the founder of Inspire Africa to account to youth about NUSAF funds disbursed to operate the Inspire Africa coffee project that is meant to benefit youth in Gulu district.
Other youth claims that a total of three billion Uganda shillings was earmarked for Inspire Africa Gulu project under NUSAF 3 at a workshop in Acholi Inn hotel, while others say it was 450million Uganda shillings to promote coffee production, consumption and skilling the youth for jobs.
He stated that much as President Museveni champions fight on corruption on the other part of the country, he need to act on some people swindling public funds in Gulu.
Uhuru added that many people are using the LRA war background in northern Uganda to impose unrelated project like coffee which takes too long to mature and be used to eradicate poverty.
He also says Inspire Africa should have carried out assessment on the need of the youth for the project to serve it purpose.
Gulu Resident district Commissioner, Santos Okot Lapolo said there was communication gap, and advises them to be transparent in term of public accountability to allow the youth own what is meant for them.
He however cautioned the youth and the proprietor of Inspire Africa to desist from sectarian mode of working, urging that it will affect promoting government programs in the district.
Inspire Africa is operating in six district of Malaba, Arua, Gulu, Lira and Tororo as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) venture.
One of the ladies, Joyce Lagum a worker at Inspire Africa confirmed that since last year they haven’t been paid because they are yet to get contract.
She says out of the 150 people that started the work last year, only about 10 is remaining and many have left for home, waiting for the construction to get finished for the official opening.
However, Tugume added it is so unfortunate that the youth of Gulu don’t know much about the project yet the information is available with the district authorities.
He says Inspire Africa got support from NUSAF 3 to promote coffee consumption in Acholi region specifically Gulu town and to skill 150 youth and provide them with employment through sale of coffee.
The under pressure Tugume added that the 150 youth will be grouped into 10 members and given a startup inputs for their group enterprises.
Asked how much the government injected in the project, Tugume declined to answer but says “government supported the project with inputs while Inspire Africa provided the expertise and building structures”.
He added: “We are stronger and can’t be intimidated, and I will not be diverted from working with the youth until I ensure they are skilled and can start their own enterprise.”
Nonetheless, Alfred Odero, the operation specialist NUSAF 3 admitted the mistake of Inspire Africa. He said the project was meant to start operating after the launch in January 2018 but for about a year now it has not started due to interruption created by festivity.
He blames the Gulu district Local government for not supporting the project right from the time it came to Gulu.
“District leaders of Gulu have not made the support to Inspire Africa and the youth too didn’t play their part to be involved as part and partial of the project,” Odero says
Statistics, according to Uganda Development Authority reveals that the country earns about USD 500 million per year from exporting 3-4 million bags of coffee and the government recently disbursed 20 million bags. It is expected by end of 2025 to earn the country USD1.5 billion in exports.