Kenya youths are lauded as some of the most innovative people on the continent. From building a hand-washing station from scrap materials to Smart Gloves, a wearable device that converts sign language to audio speech, they’ve proved that their creativity couldn’t be slowed down despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the youth still face many challenges. Research shows that every year, Kenya churns about 500,000 to 800,000 youth into the labour force. In addition, as the pandemic rocked the nation, and the world at large, many lost their sources of income increasing the already staggering number of unemployed youths. Is There Hope For The Kenyan Youth?
With unemployment rampant in the country, many Kenyan youths have to find alternative sources of income. Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja is now encouraging youths in the country to venture into fintech and digital finance. The Senator expressed hope for employment in this space. This comes as governments look for ways to recover from the economic crisis experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, more African countries continue to enter into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. This has presented an opportunity for digital finance to thrive not only in the country but on the continent as well.
While speaking during the first Africa Digital Finance Summit, Senator Sakaja stressed the importance of legislation and policy in Africa’s move towards a digital economy. “Without proper policies and legislation in place, Africa will not achieve the dream of encouraging all Africans to leverage digital finance.” He stated while calling upon other legislators to formulate policies that align with the Free Trade Agreement.
Digital finance is a growing industry that uses technology to offer financial services. It’s collectively known as fintech or financial technology. Such innovations have not only boosted the economy in many countries around the world but also created employment opportunities for thousands. Fintech entails various aspects of financing and technology. In Kenya, some types of financial technology that have taken root include online banking, investment management, payment software, and cryptocurrency.
With the increase of smartphone users, technology has become part of the day-to-day activities of both businesses and individuals in the country. This has created a shift to online banking as more people opt to carry out transactions on these platforms. As such, nearly every bank has developed its digital platform to cope with this shift. Online banking has increased in popularity over the years. This is because it offers convenience and security which was lacking in the traditional form of banking.
One of the most popular types of fintech in the country is payment software such as M-PESA and Airtel Money. M-PESA, became an instant hit and emerged as one of the leading methods of paying for goods and services other than cash. It has helped boost Kenya’s economy and it’s said that Safaricom contributes to 6% of the country’s GDP. Other examples of payment software include Samsung Pay, PayPal, Android Pay, and Apple Pay among others. This software allows users to pay bills, buy goods and services, and send or request money both locally and internationally.
Investment has become much easier with fintech. Let’s face it, most millennials don’t know a thing about investments. As we become taxpayers, it’s important for us to learn about how to make investments in the capital markets. In true millennial fashion, some innovative individuals created apps to help you do that. You can trade your own stocks, receive tailored portfolios, and check your portfolio’s performance and invest in stocks, EFTs and Cryptocurrencies. Though Kenyans still mainly rely on investment companies such as Centum, Old Mutual, and STANLIB, this type of fintech promises just to be as popular as payment software.
Becoming a cryptocurrency miner could be lucrative for the country’s youth. As more people begin to understand cryptocurrency and see its true value, it is no longer a passing fad. Back in 2015, KRA issued a warning strongly discouraging Kenyans from transacting in cryptocurrency. Today, one bitcoin is worth about Ksh 5.7 million. However, buying bitcoin in Kenya is still not easy as there are not many people offering the service. People are still debating whether bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are in a bubble that might burst – some are believers in it and others are sceptical about it. Bitcoin: Tales From A Crypto Bubble