Our next President must act on jobs and graft


Jobseekers in Nairobi. Kenya has the highest unemployment rate in the region. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Unemployment and dwindling economic opportunities have been huge challenges facing the Kenyan youth. Young people, must, therefore, carefully interrogate the credentials of various leaders in the offing as the election draws close and utilize their huge numbers to put in place leadership with the ability to fix these twin challenges.

For this to succeed, there is a grave need to first address the persistent problem of apathy that has characterised this key constituent, denying it an opportunity to counter the largely ethnic-based politics that dictates electoral outcomes. It must be made clear to the youth that their plight is inextricably linked to how the country is governed.

Those eyeing seats in the coming elections at every level must explain how the problem of joblessness, which cuts across, will be tackled. It must be addressed, both at the county and national governments level.

When the Constitution devolved power to counties, it also shifted responsibility for job creation, something that has over the years been overlooked. The two levels of the government must create synergies to create new jobs with the national government charged with the responsibility of policy guidance.

On the other hand, the county governments should create the basic infrastructure needed to spur economic growth through the value addition of agricultural produce and the creation of business incubation centres, crucial components of job creation that have largely been ignored in counties.

Kenyan youth have demonstrated their ability every time an opportunity presents itself and what the two levels of government need to do is to create an enabling environment.

The youth expect those seeking leadership to explain how they will fight corruption, ensure that the higher education system works, unite the nation, streamline government systems and defend people’s constitutional rights, among other demands.

Addressing these problems will ultimately lead Kenya into a land of opportunities.

Any government must acknowledge that investing in youth development is not an act of charity, favour or the need to attract a populous constituency for electoral victory. The constitution, in Article 55, obligates the State to ensure youth employment and empowerment is guaranteed.

Embracing innovation and business entrepreneurship projects for the youth to give them a new vision and spur inclusive socio-economic development is a constitutional duty of the state.

Those seeking leadership must also explain how they intend to integrate youth in policy-making, development, and governance to tap into their creative abilities and ideas to push the country forward.

The youth unemployment rate in Kenya, which is tipping at 40 percent, is a cause of worries for political stability and a major concern for any administration. Even more shocking, 70 percent of the unemployed youth are young university graduates pointing to a wanting higher education system.

It is paramount that the administration that comes into place look into how learning is conducted in our universities, tie loose ends between academia and industry, to channel graduates for jobs.

Kenya has over the years failed to align key economic policies to fight against unemployment among the youth. For instance, there is a need to consider the impact the capping of bank interest rates has had on youth start-ups, new investments and unemployment.

When banks are not lending to the youth who they consider “high-risk borrowers”, then the country is not on the right trajectory.