NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has directed the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) to come up with a roadmap to help Kenya deal with adverse effects of the global financial crisis to realise vision 2030.
During the council’s first meeting on Friday, the PM said that the trickle-down effect of the current credit crunch were inevitable, and there was need to cushion the country so that the economic recovery programme stays on track.
“Is it realistic to expect that economic growth will rebound to four percent or even five percent in 2009?” asked the PM. “We know that the short rain crops have been extremely poor, and the current food crisis may disrupt our economy more broadly.”
Mr Odinga expressed fears that the global crisis was likely to lead to a decline in demand for export and subsequent weakening of the banking system.
He cited the failure of crop production in successive seasons due to poor rainfall patterns as a pointer to further negative impact on the economy.
The Premier said more than 10 million Kenyans were facing starvation due to the food shortage, which he insisted should be overcome to keep vision 2030 in focus.
“We should not just sit and assume that it is the responsibility of the G-7 and other nations, but play our part to keep our economic recovery programmes on the right path.”
He urged the NESC members to find effective ways of rapidly increasing employment opportunities to absorb more than one million school leavers flooding the job market annually.
“Unemployment and especially among the youth is a matter we must begin to make an impact on. The large masses of unemployed youths have accumulated over the years,” he warned.
Mr Odinga also illustrated that the government had put measures in place to reduce poverty and inequality, but said hard work was required to invest more resources in the expansion and modernisation of physical and social infrastructure.
He said that the government was committed to implement their recommendations, including raising funds through the Public Private Partnerships to meet targets.
The PM endorsed the inception and development of ICT in the country, adding that the sector had a promising future for the youth in terms of employment opportunities.
“Training our youth for opportunities in the sector is one of the most promising avenues to defuse the unemployment time-bomb that was so eloquently exposed in our last meeting,” he affirmed.