In Kenya, just like any other struggling economies, youth unemployment has been the major hindrance to socio-economic and political advancement. Simply put, youth unemployment is an economic waste owing to the larger pools of accessible human capital going untapped, and which poses devastating long-term repercussions.
A key implication of joblessness is crime and other anti-social behaviour. The private sector that potentially stands to significantly salvage the situation can be attracted to invest only when business safety is guaranteed. In essence, creating an enabling socio-economic and political environment, including the provision of infrastructure to make industrial climate investment friendly will encourage investment, thereby creating jobs for youth.
A Jubilee Government, under the leadership of President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, will deal with the youth issue, and other factors will fall in place easing the heaviest national burden. Security agencies are at times unable to curb cybercrime due to its sophisticated nature aided by idle highly educated youth. Such skills can be lethal and detrimental to the country’s stability if they are not channelled to the good of the society.
Prostitution, including child commercial sex, has disparaged the societal morals all pegged to one single factor, poverty! Uhuru and Ruto outlined a noble framework in the manifesto to allocate 2.5 percent of the national revenue annually, a kitty designed towards establishing a Youth Enterprise Capital/Fund devised along the CDF model to enable youth access interest-free business financing either individually or in groups without the traditional requirement of collateral.
The turnaround formula is ensuring the primary drivers and engines of the country’s economy that constitute the youth are engaged in resourceful activities.
With the appropriate policies, brain drain that has deprived Kenya of pertinent skills after vigorously training of professionals particularly in the medical field are among the serious challenges the Government would have to deal with. With proper training and capacity building, youths can exploit the ICT platform with the ongoing technological advancement.
As it is, and a reflection of the past, the youth have been left out in Government procurement. This is a departure from the past in the projected affirmative action on Government procurement to 25 percent tenders awarded to the youth as part of mainstreaming participation of youth-run enterprises in economic development.
Government financing in form of loans is another remedy to address unemployment before it becomes chronic to a level where people are busy protecting their jobs rather than concentrating on performance.
Despite the wanting quality of healthcare services, many Kenyans have resorted to searching for greener pastures outside. The inevitable consequence is continued deprivation of professional services exported to other countries not to mention the investment the country has directed to such training.
Through elaborate measures outlined in the Jubilee Manifesto to tackle youth unemployment, the national burden perpetuated through the chain of cyclic poverty would have been settled to a great extent. With adequate co-operation between public and private sector where the latter has tremendous capacity to create job vacancies and encouraging environment for investment, push and pull factors ought to be thoroughly addressed.
This narrows down to one issue if the next government fully tackles the all-important youth issue, all necessary indexes for development would rightly be placed on the grain. To sum it up, this is the most opportune time that must be seized to ensure Kenya’s economy is on a growth pedestal.
(The writer is the TNA Director of Communications. Twitter: @MachelWaikenda)