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The perils of copy-and-paste programmes

COMMENTARY
By Justina Wamae | January 21st 2016

NAIROBI: Most Kenyans born after 1980 have gone through the 8-4-4 education system. In effect, most of us will attest to the power of highlight, control C and control V: copy and paste. The above strategy is very common in delivering individual and group work assignments.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent call for the publishing in newspapers of data showing how procurement for youth, women and people with disability has been facilitated comes hot on the heels of youth raising concerns with regard to how much each department and ministry is facilitating the programme. While access to Government Procurement Opportunity (AGPO) has been going on for two years now, President Uhuru’s call is a move towards monitoring and evaluating the impact of the programme, with the objective of enhancing the target group’s economic well-being.

Having interacted with public officials in the classroom and encounters while delivering group assignments, I find this decree more susceptible to the power of highlight, copy and paste. The rollout of e-procurement aimed at minimising pilferage and theft of public funds through an audit trail has largely been opposed by governors.

Notwithstanding the fact that this is an impact of IT revolution on purchasing, in which the end-to-end electronic process from need initiation to payment is a long-term objective for the global economy.

According to the Kenya Youth Survey Report commissioned by the Aga Khan University’s East African Institute, the current generation of youth has put their faith in business, with 48 per cent preferring to venture into entrepreneurship and just 26 per cent keen on employment and careers.

This is indicative of the citizens’ aspirations to enhance their economic well-being calling for practical policies and action plans that inspire start-up growth while reducing cost of failure in business. Already, the National Employment Authority Bill 2015, which is awaiting Presidential assent, has been criticised for having just one function: managing and maintaining a database of unemployed youth.

How about amending it to include such tasks as centralising and digitising the 3 billion worth AGPO categories for national and county governments that will then be a pilot test for the e-procurement process? Once successful, it could be cascaded to other functions of Government.

With this we will be hitting the two birds of target groups experiencing the benefits of the opportunity at the same time as fighting corruption and streamlining professionalism in procurement.
In addition, we will firmly be on the path towards reducing our fiscal deficit.

The envisaged authority can monitor and evaluate the implementation of AGPO for continuous improvement through conducting surveys from a target population of the over 55,000 registered companies for real-time feedback. The authority could also engage and partner with stakeholders to root for opportunities to access capital, set up businesses and engage in productive ventures, all aimed at the youth contributing in spurring the economy.

My reading of the youth agenda in Kenya is that it is similar to moving parts in a machine, hence the need for concerted efforts that require both the national government and our 47 youth county executives to work together. Thus, the National Employment Authority ought to be more prominent in future discourses around youth issues in Kenya.

Only then might parents feel that their youth are productive, Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) repayments made, crime rates reduced, radicalisation stemmed and our tax base widened towards the achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

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