CS Owalo says digital programs roll out by government will address unemployment

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo listen to trainees at Jitume digital lab at Kitale National Polytechnic. [Osinde Obare, Standard]

The digital program being rolled out by the government will benefit at least a million youths across the country each year, ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has said.

Owalo said the government is establishing digital laboratories at TVET institutions to enable youth acquire digital skills for them to secure local and international job opportunities.

Owalo said the platforms are the best solution in addressing unemployment among the youth.

With formal employment becoming a challenge, the CS said, digital programme would widen opportunities of the youth who acquire new skills, in accessing the job market.

"We are targeting to produce at least one million Youths each year, who are skilled with digital technologies and we are also reaching out to international digital companies to absorb these graduates," said Owalo.

He was speaking when he opened the Jitume Digital laboratory at the Kitale National Polytechnic.

Owalo was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Engineer David Tanui, Elgeyo Marakwet governor Welsey Rotich, Trans Nzoia Senator Allan Chesang, Trans Nzoia County Secretary Truphosa Were and Kitale National Polytechnic principal John Akola.

To achieve the digital goal, Owalo disclosed that the government had rolled out a digital superhighway targeting 100,000km with fibre optic cable for Kenyans to access reliable and stable internet conductivity.

"We are not rolling out a digital skilling programme but it is part and parcel of the digital superhighway, which has digital skills and infrastructure and we target 100,000 km to be installed with fibre optic cable," said Owalo.

Apart from the digital superhighway, Owalo explained that 25,000 free WiFi hotspots in markets across the country to enable those operating at the  bottom pyramid to access free internet.

Under the digital platforms, unemployment can be addressed and youths can earn up to Sh 200,000 working at home for international institutions.

"Due to scarce formal jobs, the digital platforms present a solution to unemployment of youth. They can work from their homes and earn up to Sh 200,000 which is good money to sustain themselves and their families," he said.

While the youths undergo digital skilling, the government on the other hand would be negotiating with international digital companies to recruit them.

"The only existing job in the world is in digital and the government is committed to supporting youths with digital technologies to secure jobs," he said.

He announced that the country is headed for a digital economy to address unemployment.

The CS added that the digital skilling programme is part of the Kenya Kwanza government manifesto to transform the economy.

"The digital skilling programme is part of Kenya Kwanza's Bottom Up transformative agenda," he said.

Engineer Tanui said the government is collaborating with both local and international ICT companies to support the digital programme.

"To achieve the dream of turning the country to a digital economy, we have partnered with international groups such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google among others," said Tanui.

Tanui said the ministry is negotiating with MPs to support open digital hubs at ward level across the country.

Chesang who is the ICT committee chairman said they are in talks with MPs to establish digital hubs in remote areas.

Owalo also launched a digital laboratory at Kapcherop TVC and a Government funded public WIFI hotspot in Iten, in Elgeyo Marakwet County. 

“I thank the people of Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet counties for receiving the game changer digital platforms launched in your counties today with enthusiasm,” Owalo said.

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