ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan 27 – Kenya is deliberately undertaking initiatives aimed at engaging the youth to eliminate any attempt at radicalisation and extremism which preys on their vulnerability, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said.
Speaking during a meeting with Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Lidegaard on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mohamed said the government will impart skills to empower the youth socially and economically.
She cited the National Youth Service (NYS) which she said targets to train over 20,000 youth every year and prepare them for employment both locally and abroad.
“We have, for example, talked with the United Arabs Emirates which has promised to give our youth jobs in hospitality sector, transport sector, manufacturing, airlines among others,” Mohamed said.
She said priority will be given to those going through NYS and have been impacted with skills on what to expect in a foreign land and how to develop themselves.
Other initiatives, CS Mohamed said, include Uwezo Fund which seeks to avail capital to the youth for support in entrepreneurial activities; the Slum Upgrade Project which provides employment opportunities to the youth; and the Nyumba Kumi initiative aimed at enhancing community participation in addressing insecurity.
“The youth are critical element in ensuring sustainable development in Africa. We should work together to support initiatives that uplift their social economic conditions. We must fill the gaps that could be exploited by the extremists to negatively influence them,” said Mohamed.
She said the case of violence and extremism will only be addressed in a concerted manner since the challenge remains global. Terrorist organizations have thrived through recruitment of sections of society who are marginalized and impoverished. The youth have been very vulnerable to extremist ideology.
She said many jihadists fighting in Somalia, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere included those from outside these countries and especially from the West. Sahel-Maghreb-Sahara and Horn of Africa regions had borne the brunt of these extremists.
“We have monitored movement of so-called ‘visitors’ passing through Kenya and have been shocked to discover some were actually jihadist using our ports to access Somalia,” said Mohamed.
She said there was need to significantly reduce youth vulnerability to terrorist activities.
On his part Lidegaard said his country was very keen to support initiatives that target the most vulnerable in society including the youth, women and children.
“I am happy that Kenya has started these initiatives targeting members of community who would otherwise remain poor. The slum upgrading in Nairobi is particularly of interest since it directly addresses issues of poverty and environment,” said Lidegaard.
Lidegaard said Denmark together with other Nordic countries were looking forward to forming an alliance with Africa countries to specifically address climate issues.