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State should use census data to make life better for all Kenyans

By Editorial | February 22nd 2020

The release of additional census data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) should be a wake-up call to policy makers in both the county and national governments. The numbers present valuable information on trends and patterns within the country’s demographic that should inform policy decisions and resource distribution.

It is encouraging that more people are using electricity to light their houses, clean sources of energy such as LPG to cook and have piped water. But the results are far from desirable. Moreover, there are still Kenyans who live in squalid conditions even as millions of young people go without jobs. Of the about 23.4 million people aged between 15 and 64 years, who would primarily make up the country’s workforce, a substantial 6.6 million do not have jobs.

While a number of these are people who may not be in a position to offer their services in the labour market owing to different factors such as incapacitation, millions of them continue to grapple with unemployment.

This is despite a good number of them having the energy, creativity and the will to work. Now that the Government knows who is unemployed and the skills that they possess, it should use this information in its policy decisions as well as investments to make sure these people have employment. Interestingly, eight in 10 Kenyans have regular access to the Internet, a signal that the country is on course to achieving universal access to ICT goods and services.

Armed with this data, the Government, working together with the private sector, needs to come up with well targeted policies. We have always known that Kenya is an agricultural economy, yet we have done little to boost this sector.

Instead, farmers who toil year-in, year-out in the scorching sun have been defrauded by a market that is riddled with cartels.

But with the current census showing even the number of households with farms, it will be possible to know genuine farmers when, for example, supplying stable food items to the national granary, the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

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