NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – He may not have promised 500,000 jobs during his first 100 days in office as his predecessor had, but nonetheless, President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to tackle the problem of unemployment differently.
“Among our youth, unemployment is as high as 70 percent. For far too long, our national resource has received insufficient attention and the energy and time of our youth have been wasted through alcohol and drug abuse,” Kenyatta said as he laid out his plan for the next five years to the legislature.
During the official opening session of the Eleventh Parliament, Kenyatta reiterated his campaign pledge to use the Sh6 billion that had been set aside for a presidential run-off in the provision of interest free loans to both women and youth as he had said in his inauguration speech.
“Our work begins with immediate effect, within the next 100 days, we will establish a framework for youth and women to access interest free loans at the grassroots,” he said.
Kenyatta said the current women and youth funds set up by his predecessor Mwai Kibaki will be consolidated into one fund in the move to keep this promise. “My Government will consolidate and harmonise the youth and women’s funds and ensure these funds are easily accessible.”
And in a bid to improve the accessibility of the capital, Kenyatta said the new fund will be modelled after the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), “I will act decisively to bring together the separate funds for youth and women and create a powerful new fund that is administered at the constituency level.”
In line with a statement he made during the opening of twenty-fourth session of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council on Monday, Kenyatta promised to push for the mandatory allocation of a third of government contracts to the youth.
“I will act decisively to review and amend the Public Procurement and Disposal Act to establish a legal obligation on Government to buy Kenyan first and create procurement quotas for youth and women.”
The entertainment industry is another avenue the President believes the government can use to create jobs. He has pledged to push for a legislation that will see local free to air television stations air 60 percent Kenyan content.
“Kenyans who have received international recognition and nomination for international awards have shown that investing in the arts and entertainment sectors will not only create jobs; it will boost tourism, and promote our culture around the world.”
The sports industry was not left out with Kenyatta revealing his plans to build five stadiums in its promotion and to set up a national lottery for it’s financing, “We must promote investment in emerging industries. My Government will foster the Sport and the Entertainment sectors, establishing a National Lottery scheme that will support them both. We will also seek, in consultation with the county governments, to provide for the building of sports stadia in five main towns across the country.”
In an attempt to expand the job market, Kenyatta said his government will double its efforts towards regional integration and the marketing of Kenya as a choice investment destination.
“We must deepen our relationships with our regional partners in order to expand our markets, create jobs and boost growth,” the Head of State said in a statement which also promised a boost in the tourism sector, “Our aim is to double the level of tourism in our country to 3 million visitors a year by 2017.”
Unlike his predecessor, Kenyatta said his government would not convert polytechnics to Universities; a move he considers counterproductive in the drive to create jobs.
“My Government intends to propose a Sessional paper that will provide for an increase in the number of Institutes of Technology in every county and end the current practice of transforming middle-level colleges to universities.”