Next government must not shortchange youth


Youths take part in a physical grill at Molo Stadium in Nakuru County during a Kenya Defense Forces recruitment exercise. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NMG

The next regime must keep the promises made during the campaigns to empower the youth, including appointments to State jobs.

The administration must bring young people to the table — build out opportunities for young Kenyans and create a diverse public service pipeline.

Appointment of Cabinet, PSs, parastatal heads and envoys should not fail the youth representation test. Most important, appointments will be a good move only if the picked persons genuinely champion the interests of youth, and not the interests of politicians.

The selection process should be disclosed to have a truly talented and competent representative as it will serve as a ray of hope and a role model for other youths in Kenya. The youth are a large, highly diverse group with differentiated voices. I hope that appointments all across the board will empower the youth, and not simply be tokenistic.

Another focus to empower the youth should be the directive to give them public tenders. This has failed to materialise due to the lack of a sound policy framework, and the presence of powerful cartels in government departments that are still controlling procurement processes.

Next leadership should pay keen attention to youth unemployment and not just consolidation of power when it comes to hiring heads of parastatals.

The government should not overlook the youth in public service jobs. If one looks at the role youth play in the private sector, it is clear they are the ones driving the economy. When the next president announces a new Cabinet, he should create a ministry dedicated to youth affairs and a directorate to oversee their programmes.

High voter apathy among the youth is a protest against exclusion and the loss of touch with their plight. Considering the role they play in elections, this is not a good political capital for the government.

Kenya, like many African countries, has a huge proportion of youth in its population. Young people aged 35 and below constitute 78 percent of the population.

However, appointments and promotions in the public service are not commensurate with this reality.

The common misperception, which has refused to go away over the years, is that youth are inexperienced as opposed to elders who are considered wise and experienced. But leadership is not just about experience. There are other strengths such as focus and creativity that young people can inject into public service.

Young people play an indispensable role in re-imagining their communities by constantly taking action for a better and more sustainable world. Indeed, the appointment of young people will inject fresh ideas and new leadership needed to build a better Kenya.