The Government must not leave youth behind in the implementation of the Big Four agenda to deliver food security, affordable housing and healthcare and manufacturing. It is worrying, if the recent reports are anything to go by, that almost half of Kenyans are not aware of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda. Involved and informed public is key to the success of the development plan.
Most importantly, the government must develop a clear roadmap of how young people can tap into the opportunities of the agenda – and how this plan can translate to job creation for the youth.
Successive governments have toyed with the efforts of reducing unemployment, a challenge that gets worse each day, without great success. This has largely been attributed to lack of a clear strategy on how the jobless youth can be integrated in the country’s growing economy.
The rolling out of the Big Four agenda comes at a time when the government is reviewing the National Youth Policy. While at it, it should set the foundation of integrating the youth into the Big Four agenda. To start with, there is need for the National Employment Authority to carry out an audit to provide elaborate data of the status of the youth job skills especially in the counties, which are expected to be the main drivers of the Big Four agenda This will help to assess the existing human resource capacity. Each county has its own competitive advantage, requiring different skills.
Having been marginalised by an economy that is not able to accommodate all those seeking entry into the job market, the Big Four agenda is expected to have an element of affirmative action for the youth in new job opportunities.
The magnitude of the inequalities between the rich and the poor in the Kenyan society is also a yawning gap, justifying affirmative action.
The national government, which is driving the Big Four agenda has already devolved crucial services to the county government which will be critical for Big Four.
For instance, agriculture is today under the county governments. The sector is expected to play a significant role in manufacturing and food security, the two items in the Big Four plan. Value addition is expected to be carried out at the county level. This will require provision of the capital and infrastructure such as access roads.
Issues of corruption and waste of public resources have been Kenya’s biggest enemy to growth. Young people should now form citizen accountability groups at the county level to enhance their participation in governance. This would enhance citizenry check on the excesses at county level.
But the Big Four agenda will not spur the expected growth if strong areas of collaboration are not identified, including partnerships that go beyond political divide.
Youth should not sit and wait for the government to involve them, but should find a niche around the four thematic development areas that the President has defined and start working on them.
Raphael Obonyo, Author of Conversations about the Youth in Kenya. Email; [email protected]