Uhuru pledges 1.3m jobs despite missed target in first term

President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG
President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Jubilee government has raised the number of jobs it pledges to create annually by 300,000 over the one million target it set for its first term.

The new manifesto bets on county-driven industrialisation and irrigation-based agriculture to rev up jobs in an economy where the rapidly expanding workforce isn’t finding jobs fast enough.

If re-elected, the Uhuru Kenyatta administration has promised to set up at least one industry in every county and offer government-sponsored internships to graduates to boost their chances of finding jobs.

Kenya has the highest rate of youth joblessness in East Africa, the World Bank says, with 17 per cent of all young people eligible for work lacking jobs.

Neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda have comparable rates of 5.5 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively.

The Jubilee government has missed the target of at least a million jobs annually it promised in its last manifesto in 2013.

The economy created 832,900 new formal and informal sector jobs in 2016, down from 841,600 a year earlier. The new formal sector jobs were also the lowest since the Jubilee government came to office in 2013.

Formal jobs added to the economy last year narrowed by a third from 128,000 in 2015 and 134,200 in 2013.

Jubilee is targeting the agro-based sector to drive jobs growth and lower the cost of food, which has become a political headache for Mr Kenyatta as he seeks a second term.

It plans to complete construction of 57 large-scale dams for water supply and support smallholder irrigation to wean the country from rain-fed farming.

It says it will double the fertiliser subsidy to above Sh6 billion to keep the cost of the farm input at Sh1,500 per 50kg back compared to the market price of between Sh3,000 and Sh3, 800.

Jubilee also says it will connect all to power by 2020, offer free secondary schooling, one-year NHIF cover for new mothers, double monthly stipend for the elderly to 1.4 million and facilitate the building of a half a million affordable homes yearly.