Today, we celebrate the International Youth Day. According to the United Nations, the youth are people aged between 18 and 35.
Africa is the youngest continent with 70 per cent of its population under 30. Research projects that by 2030, young Africans will constitute 42 per cent of global youth.
As we celebrate Kenyan youth, we should ask ourselves and the government tough questions. What policies have we come up with that touch on the youth? Youth are the majority yet lag behind in government appointments and other opportunities.
We have ignored the youth for years. We keep telling them they are the leaders of tomorrow. Youth are the power of today and the future is today because what we do for them today, determines their future.
Picture this. Kenya’s population is 53 million. According to National Council for Population and Development, 80 per cent of them are below the age of 35. In this percentage, only 3.1 million Kenyans are formally employed and I can bet, youth are less than 30 per cent. This means 70 per cent are in the informal sector.
Majority of youth are jobless and some are hustling and their hustles are not recognised by the government. And I don’t mean the government should tax them, I’m talking about how the State can come up with policies that help their businesses grow.
Manufacturing is big. Can the government come up with ideas on how to change the raw product into finished goods? Our land is good for cotton farming and we can produce our own fiber to manufacture millions of products. Kenya is Africa’s Silicon Savannah. Our country produces million tons of avocados and mangoes, but why do we have to export them raw when we can do value addition and create jobs in the process?
Many countries create job opportunities for their young people through manufacturing. We should not sell tomatoes, we should sell tomato sauce. Another one is technology. Kenya has the best education in Africa and we speak fluent English as part of our culture. We can set up call centres here for American and Western firms.
If we don’t create opportunities in this area, we will be known as an epicentre of forgeries as most youth help students steal exams. The government should take this positively and equip this market because our youth are talented. Our youth should not just learn computer for the sake, it should help them venture into the job market.
Africa also has the best climate for agriculture. We should not be complaining about the cost of unga yet with today’s technology, we can produce enough food to feed ourselves and export the surplus.
Israel, which is in a desert, produces enough food. The government can come up with policies and tax incentives that help the youth venture into smart agriculture. There would be no food shortage in Kenya.
President William Ruto has given capital to the youth through the Hustler Fund. That is a good gesture and done through technology. As Shofco, we are training the youth in slums to get the Hustler Fund, how they to spend it, create jobs for themselves and earn a living.
Two things make me hopeful about our country. One, is our new Competency Based Curriculum that emphasizes on creativity. For years, we were using a colonial education system where teacher is always right and students have to listen.
CBC is collaborative and engaging. We can create jobs through creativity that comes with innovative ideas. If CBC is well implemented, we will have a generation of youth who are innovative and focused on creating jobs.
Two, is the Hustler Fund and the internship programme the government has rolled out. Capital is important for a young person, but the government cannot do everything. That is why Shofco has come up with financial literacy programme for the youth in slums. We want them to get the funds and put them into good use.
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To the youth, stop looking for shortcuts. Nothing comes easy. Follow the process and remember integrity is key in life. Your name and reputation are more important than the stolen millions. Happy International Youth Day.