NAIROBI, KENYA: About 50 000 graduates are churned out of public and private universities in Kenya every year piling into the number of unemployed youths in the country estimated at 2.3 million.
With a growing young population and the value attached to university education for a better life, most Kenyans join universities with an intention of getting an academic qualification that can land them a good job. The reality however, is quite different.
According to Kenya Bureau of Statistics, it takes a Kenyan university graduate an average of five years to secure a job in Kenya today.
After their study, most of the graduates move to the city where grass is deemed to be greener, before they are hit hard with the high rates of employment.
In the face of a weak economic growth, there has been a fervent call for university graduates to become entrepreneurs rather than seek employment.
Kennedy Juma landed in academic writing field after moving out of his parents' house in 2010.
"I was broke and was looking around for a teaching job when my friend Nyasuma introduced me to online writing," said Juma.
He was earning a meager Sh80 per page but had to keep writing in order to sustain himself during the school vacations.
More than two years after graduating with a degree in Information Sciences, Juma continues to thrive in the writing industry which he had first considered a survival means.
"I wasn't looking for an employment, I was only after a means of survival after which I'd continue with my studies and become a Computer Security expert and ensure systems are full proof," he explains.
Though he admits that it was a distraction, Juma says he knew that he had to give studies priority during the pursuit for a living.
Juma agrees that many graduates who miss out in the scramble for the few decent employment opportunities have flocked the academic writing market.
Many studies have revealed that the future of those with university training dims with the dark fact that many of the employed are not engaged in the jobs for which they are qualified.
Out of frustration and desperation, the young citizens especially from poor backgrounds turn to drug addiction, illicit deals or find menial jobs for their survival.
Academic writing has come as a blessing in disguise as it provides employment to most of the Kenyan unemployed youth but at the same time, renders the skills acquired in universities worthless as they are not put to use. While Juma earns up to 60 dollars a week, Louise Adera makes between 20 and 30 dollars.
"There are many online companies that hire young writers. After writing for between three months and a year, you can adopt your own account," advises Juma.
Online writing accounts can be acquired either through buying or opening one. Most people prefer to buy account as the process of opening one is very rigorous and competitive.
"A good account goes for between fourty thousand and two hundred thousand. However, it is very important that one writes before acquiring an account," Juma explains.
He continues, "In order to reap full returns from the investment placed in buying an account, you need to understanding the writing process, the language required, plagiarism issues and the structure,"
Just like any other field, online writing is faced with its challenges the major being cybercrime.
"Some people have fake accounts. They could make you work for them for free or they could sell the non-existent account," he explains.
Emmanuel Osogo is a victim of cyber fraud. After a long search for an account for sale, Osogo landed one which he deemed a real deal.
"A Ukrainian guy had an academic research account that he said he was selling only because he was moving to Kenya to work for their Embassy and he would not get time to maintain it," he said.
Osogo said he sounded genuine and it was convenient because the person would be moving closer to him and would help in managing it.
"Every background checks I conducted, apparently shoddy, proved him clean until I deposited the cash. Immediately everything ceased to exist. Both the person and the account," he lamented.
Juma explained that a beginner needs to join any writers' social media networks where fraudulent incidents and accounts are discussed.
Even though he encourages young unemployed Kenyans to write, he asks that they invest in other businesses from their returns.
"I don't think there is a bright future in online writing. This is just a stepping stone for the unemployed to earn a living and save for better investment opportunities," he explains.
He added that, "With the upsurge of frauds and cybercrime, online payment systems are cracking down on the industry. This lead to the shutdown of many companies hence increase charges."
Juma also said there is an increased competition as many people join the industry.