Thematic Green Messages

Author: Dr. Isaac Kalua

8th May 2021 at 01:40 pm


This Is How To Broaden Job Opportunities For Our Youth

Author Dr Kalua writing on This Is How To Broaden Job Opportunities For Our Youth


Do you remember the last time that you had malaria? You probably felt the symptoms - high fever, joint-aches and the like - then went for a malaria blood test. Once your malaria diagnosis was confirmed, malaria drugs were prescribed. You proceeded to buy and take those drugs. In a few days' time, you were healed of the malaria. Unfortunately, this simple scenario ends differently for thousands of Kenyans who die of malaria every year. Kenya's employment sector is experiencing an equally dire predicament, particularly for young people.

Seventy percent of unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years old. In addition, at least 800,000 young people enter the job market every year. A job market diagnosis clearly shows that we are suffering from a chronic illness of unemployed youth. Accordingly, I suggest a drastic prescription to this malady.

A few years ago, the government rolled out DigiTalent, a successful Presidential Digital Talent Programme (PDTP). This programme has created a database of recently graduated ICT interns from which employers in the private and public sector can select from. So far, hundreds of interns and dozens of employers have benefited from this programme.

This program's critical strength lies in its ability to connect ICT savvy young people with employers who need their skills. In so doing, it takes away the burden of fruitless, endless 'tarmacking' from young people. This approach can be drastically expanded to cater for hundreds of thousands more young people in other areas, not just ICT. For that to happen, there is need to link new jobs to the pressing national challenges that they will solve.

For instance, Kenya is a water scarce country. Three out of ten Kenyans still depend on unsafe sources like ponds and rivers for their water needs. In addition, one half of Kenyans do not have access to basic sanitation. Against this backdrop, there is an urgent need to engage development partners in establishing an elaborate water substructure that will ensure reliable distribution of water within and across all of Kenya's forty-seven Counties. Such a well thought out projects will create millions of jobs not just for water engineers, but also for plumbers and thousands of manual laborers.

Just like the water scenario, Kenya is also performing poorly in the housing front. Since only 7.3 million Kenyans own their homes, there is still a lot of room for home-ownership to grow. Building hundreds of thousands of affordable houses is a labor-intensive venture that will employ hundreds of thousands of Kenyans. The government cannot build these houses on its own and neither should it. Instead, local and foreign investors must be fully incentivized to construct affordable houses on a large scale. As they do so, policy must be enacted to turn mjengo jobs into well-paying jobs that any able-bodied person will be proud to do.

However, we can only create all these jobs through unprecedented success in investment.

Last week, I was privileged to attend the Kenya-Tanzania Business Forum that was graced by both our great Presidents. I was pleased to hear President Suluhu Hassan mention that Kenya is Tanzania's fifth largest global investor and largest in this region. This has resulted in 513 investment projects that have created 51,000 jobs for Tanzanians. These jobs are only possible because of the funds that Kenyan investors have pumped into Tanzania. Therein lies the power of investment to create jobs. That is why our leadership must work overtime to attract as many investors as possible to invest in our transport infrastructure, water substructure, houses and many more investment ripe areas.

Those investment projects must then be linked to a well thought out national youth job placement initiative. This will ensure equity and equality in job distribution amongst our young people.

~ Think Green, Act Green!

by Dr. Isaac Kalua, the founder and chairperson, Green Africa Foundation ~ 8th May, 2021.


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Dr. Isaac Kalua

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