Everybody is concerned about unemployment in Kenya which is getting out of hand despite the country’s comparatively favourable economic standing in Africa. Kenya has the third largest economy in the sub-Saharan region after Nigeria and South Africa.
The budget readin June, was bigger than that of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania combined. The World Bank in its 2016 youth unemployment report placed Uganda youth unemployment at 4 per cent, Tanzania at 5.2 per cent and Kenya 22.2 per cent.
According to UNDP’s Human Development Index report of 2017, Kenya’s unemployment rate is the highest in East Africa, hitting 39.1 per cent meaning that it is higher than Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia. The World Bank has recently revealed that Kenya has the sixth highest number of poor people in the world. The report revealed that 17.6 million Kenyans are living below Sh200 a day. This begs the question why Kenya? What is happening that’s keeping our children out of work?
Several things could be done by organisations and individuals to avert the situation. First, the government as the chief duty bearer for her people must intervene in the market.
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It should intervene and hire labour in its institutions to make sure that people are productively engaged, and the government does not lose.
Why spend money in free primary and secondary education only to have graduates you cannot tax because they are not working? The internship programme started by Public Service Commission is commendable.
However when the Cabinet Secretary confessed that some government departments had turned down interns, we begun to doubt the government’s commitment to it.
The next organisations are unions led by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) of Kenya. Cotu has employed qualified economists that can argue the case for increased employment by government and private employers.
The same message the unions and employers had as they fought child labour in Kenya, is the same message they need to carry along to redeem our children from hopelessness and destruction brought about by unemployment.
They said that anyone employing a child from year 6 to 18 and not giving them education was destroying this child and by extension the country.
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The same message needs to be carried again about youth unemployment. The country is destroying millions of children by not giving them opportunity to be employed and to contribute to the development of their motherland. Cotu and Federation of Kenya Employers should be represented at the National Employment Authority.
There are individuals who are experts on these issues to do with economy in Kenya who need to give free advice to the government. It is the greatest honour to contribute to the good of your country when you can.
Then the middle class should contribute more actively to the development of the country by giving employment to the people. In india and Pakistan, university professors are Chauffer driven.
Due to devolution, we now have many middle-class people strewn all over the country. They can generate jobs by starting businesses.
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Finally, the Members of Parliament should push that Kenya moves from social protection to a welfare state where unemployed individuals are given state support. There are no two ways about this.
—The writer is a consultant. [email protected]