I attended the Annual National Youth Dialogue that had been organized by County Governance Watch at International Leadership University in Nairobi. The guest speaker was the immediate former Speaker of the Senate, Ekwe Ethuro and he asked a very critical question that left many youths at the event pondering over it: What is in stock for the Kenyan youth as unemployment becomes a menace? He posed.
According to Wordometers, Kenya currently has a population of 49.99 million people with median age standing at 19.2 years. Reports show that at least 80 percent of Kenya’s population is made up of the youth aged 35 years and below. The unemployment rate in Kenya now stands at 39.1 percent. In fact, one out of every six Kenyans is unemployed and the situation is getting critical with each passing day. Thousands of young people are being channelled by learning institutions into the already saturated job market. The formal sector is only able to accommodate a few, a majority have been left to scramble for available opportunities in the informal sector. The informal sector, which is mostly made up of small medium enterprises, is on a bumpy road with most SMEs closing down as a result of tough business environment. Statistics show that close to 400,000 SMEs in Kenya die even before seeing their second birthday.
According to Speaker Ethuro, Kenya’s economy is in more danger than ever before and that the situation will be worse if the needs of the young people will not be catered for. “We keep on saying that the young people are the future of this country. How can they be the future when they don’t have a future of their own?” He asked. “Young people want employment opportunities. Promises alone are not enough,” he said.
There are various causes of increased unemployment in Kenya. High population growth rate has been fronted as the leading cause of unemployment. Kenya’s population has been growing rapidly and this has put pressure in the labour force. In an effort to earn a living, many Kenyans, the majority of the youth tend to move to migrate to urban areas in search of jobs. University youth encouraged to exploit potential in agribusiness
Majority of the Kenyan industries are now embracing technology and this has reduced the number of jobs available. Also, there has been a general economic recession around the globe and Kenya is not an exception. This has curtailed the efforts of most economies, the majority of the developing countries, from cutting down the rate of unemployment. The labour demand in Kenya is largely seasonal, especially in the rural areas. Most rural areas in Kenya depend on the agricultural sector for employment. Unfortunately, there is a general lack of modernization in the sector making it unsustainable for the growing population.
“Every problem has a solution. There is no unique problem without a problem in this world and unemployment is just one of the problems with numerous solutions. Kenya can eradicate unemployment if she wants to,” said Speaker Ethuro.
To eradicate unemployment in Kenya, Ekwe Ethuro outlined various steps which he called ‘Unemployment eradication bay steps for Kenya.
Change of education system – according to Speaker Ethuro, the education system in Kenya is largely theoretical as opposed to the much needed practical form of education. “We are increasingly embracing institutions that produce doctors who cannot treat, engineers who cannot construct and teachers who cannot teach,” he said. The education system in Kenya is also examination-based. Right away from a child steps into a classroom, he or she starts to prepare for exams and not much about the real life is taught.
Enhance the protection of local industries – Kenya should work on her importing behaviour. For instance, the country should not be importing goods and products that can be produced and manufactured locally. Kenya largely relies on agriculture. The agricultural sector should be enhanced and the country should invest more in the sector other than importing agricultural goods.
Embracing the use of technology in creating employment opportunities – The internet has provided immense employment opportunities for the Kenyan youth. Some of the opportunities provided by the internet include online services such as online writing, developing and selling of apps, research and IT consulting among others.
Featured image via www.nextcity.org.