Kenyan youths cry foul over President Uhuru's parastatal appointments

Kenya: The latest appointments to the boards of parastatals by President Uhuru has raised disquiet among the public. I have seen part of his bedrock of support particularly the youth crying foul. A scan on social media shows that even some of his fanatical supporters from his backyard particularly the youth raising concerns. I have followed some of his supporter’s comments for a while and I’m intrigued by their sudden posture.

I would like to however point out that the appointments are political just as anything that happens in Kenya system of governance remains political. It is also local as all politics is local. Well, I have seen comments that the appointments are a recycling of politicians, reward of cronies and names from big political and economic families in the country.  The government machine has also said that they represent the face of Kenya as they cut across the counties in Kenya, nay tribes.

Maybe the youth expected so much without checking the reality. I would like to point a few things on the Kenyan politics and economy. The reality is, even if it was to be done differently, very few youths could be absorbed to lead boards of parastatals. Experience counts here and I’m not saying those who were appointed were all having the right impetus. At the same point some political considerations were in play - there is a general election in the corner as 2017 is not far. At the same time to woo communities popular names were to be absorbed. The point is expectations were not met. So far Jubilee will have to work extra hard in the remaining two years to fulfil its manifesto and make Kenya a better state.

The youth population cannot also be absorbed in significant numbers to the government. Currently, we are counting over 5 million Kenyans with ability to work who are jobless. At the same time, a look at the people joining the labour market after schooling at various levels including universities, retrenchments, early retirements and business migration or closures vis-à-vis job creation is a bit scary. I think the youth expectations on job availability will likely lead to more disappointments. Even if say 100,000 youths were to miraculously get absorbed in the government, nothing so significant will change.

The private sector remains the surest avenue to sort the unemployment crisis. For this to happen, it befits the government to create requisite incentives that include ensuring security (look at the mess in tourism), infrastructure, policies and a more export oriented approach. I’m always bemused when we keep urging the youth to go into entrepreneurship as the solution to unemployment crisis. It’s a solution but watch the size of the economic pie. A GDP of about US$52 million with a population of about 45 million people is quite inadequate. Yes there is need for more micro enterprises but remember with the pie too small only a certain number will survive. At the same time, I hear people encouraging the youth to go into farming. Yes we need to produce more food and other agricultural products but also remember this is a sector that easily gets into saturation of products and have a lot of market dynamics that mainly work to limit it. What I’m saying is whether its other enterprises or agriculture, we have to grow our export mind-set as we grow the domestic market.

We may complain about parastatal appointments. If it is on expectations of performance, it’s reasonable. I mean we need to always look to inject more firepower into them. If it is about youth employment, it’s fair but this is hardly going to sort the youth unemployment crisis. We should think like the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporeans, Malaysians and the like. Grow our economic pie and get a fair share of the export market while making sure our private sector thrives and grows immensely. Period.