How the youth can step up for a better future of our nation

Undoubtedly, Joseph Tom Mboya remains one of the most admirable young founding fathers of our great nation. He reaffirmed to us that young people have the potential to make change, and one of his famous quotes that lingers in my mind every time I think about change by the Kenyan youth has been: “I have news for you, there is no superman (it’s up to us.)”.

At 30, I cannot agree more with young Mboya’s sentiments from six decades ago. As a youth, I bear in mind that there are many struggles young people undergo and in reference to the young Mboya’s words of wisdom, truly, it’s up to us to stand for the change we want.

For this to happen, we must be ready to change our attitude and rise to the occasion of being present in shaping the future of our beloved country.  

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2019 census, about 75 per cent of the population is youth. With such a number of energetic young people, not only are the youth capable of driving change but being part of that change that ought to propel our nation to greater heights. This will only happen by ironing out some few issues.

First, the youth must shun away negative attitude towards development initiatives. This can only be done by debunking negative information we consume from our digital media that continue to derail us.

With data from the Digital 2020 Report by DataReportal indicating that the number of internet users in Kenya increased by 3.2 million - which is about 43 per cent between 2019 and 2020 as at January 2020 - the content that revolves and circulates across social media has the power to make or break us.

And, as the adage goes, what we say and practise is what we attract and become. As such, we need to embrace the fact that, rather than building a culture of negativity, we should embrace positive thinking and look into areas where we can plug in our efforts for the country’s development.

In so doing, we would stand at a vantage position to create a pool of solutions to the challenges we face. Secondly, there has been a fallacy by many youth that most government’s projects are never meant for their benefit. This is a misconception that many youth have often fallen trap to.

This is proven by data from the Youth Enterprise Development Fund which indicates that since 2015 to 2019, the Fund has grown its revolving fund from Sh2.7 billion in the FY 2015/16 to Sh3.8 billion in FY 2018/19. We only need to be present in these projects for a better nation.

Third, the government has established several platforms the youth can leverage on. Such platforms, like Uwezo Fund and Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) offer opportunities in plenty.

But for this to happen, the youth must always be on toes with the current communications about these opportunities. One of the ways to do so is by utilising the power of groups and the right information which circulates on those platforms. This is a doable thing and the testimonies are available.

For instance, during the Kenya Ni Mimi Youth Summit, one of the beneficiaries of Uwezo Fund testified on how she missed an opportunity at first because she was not enlightened about the fund. Surprisingly, her friend who applied for the opportunity secured the funds and today, her business is thriving. This proves that access to reliable information is a strong pillar to youth’s development. With technology development and a rise in information sharing platforms, we can utilise these resources for our own betterment.

Finally, the power of partnerships and collaborations should never be underestimated. Cognizant of the fact that resources will always be limited, partnerships are key to youth empowerment. To get this done, we must be ready to align our priorities on a positive trajectory while keeping in mind that it’s up to us to make things happen.

In so doing, we will enhance our contribution to the well-being of our country by making informed decisions, governing our own resources and creating a better country for us and the generations to come.

-The writer is the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs.