ICT can solve youth unemployment

ICT holds key to Kenya’s youth unemployment crisis

In Summary

•Youth unemployment in Kenya is as high as 35 percent (4.5 million young men and women), compared to the overall national unemployment rate of about 10 percent

•Huawei Technologies (Kenya) launched the Huawei ICT Academy, a school-enterprise co-operation project with institutions of higher learning


Kenya, like many nations in the developing world, grapples with a persistent challenge of youth unemployment. Several studies have shown that the country is facing a youth bulge, with nearly 75 percent of the population aged below 30 years old.

In Kenya, the youth remain the most dominant resource the country has; yet this is a segment of the country’s population that faces perennial challenges and risks, largely attributed to the state of the economy and gaps in skills.

It therefore presents both a significant asset and a formidable challenge. With such a huge proportion of the entire population under the age of 30, the country possesses a vast pool of talent and energy. Yet, this demographic dividend risks turning into a demographic disaster if adequate employment opportunities are not created. Amidst this gloom, there shines a beacon of hope – Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In a world increasingly dominated by digitalisation, Kenya has a unique opportunity to harness the power of ICT to tackle its youth unemployment problem.

Youth unemployment in Kenya is as high as 35 percent (4.5 million young men and women), compared to the overall national unemployment rate of about 10 percent. Every year, more than one million graduates continue to join the labour market. 

This is where ICT comes into play. ICT offers a myriad of opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, particularly for young people. With the right skills and infrastructure, Kenyan youth can leverage ICT to create jobs, innovate solutions, and drive economic growth. The digital economy presents avenues for employment in sectors such as software development, digital marketing, e-commerce, and telecommunication services, among others.

One of the key advantages of ICT is its ability to transcend geographical barriers. In a country as diverse as Kenya, where access to traditional job markets may be limited by factors such as location or infrastructure, ICT offers a lifeline. Through remote work and online platforms, young Kenyans can access job opportunities from anywhere in the world, thereby expanding their horizons and increasing their earning potential.

In 2017, the government, through the Ministry of ICT, launched online work training on ICT targeting 10,000 trainees. The training was offered by the Ministry of ICT in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Kenya Private Sector Alliance, free of charge.

Additionally, the government has put in place an enabling environment to boost the ICT sector through proper legislations and policies, as well as initiating key projects such as the Konza Technopolis to fast track the development of the digital economy. The government’s initiatives in ICT have also led to notable innovations in education and communication such as Kenya Education Cloud, Ubongo, Eneza Education, e-Limu, M-Shule, eKitabu, among others. Similarly, the private sector players such as Huawei Technologies have bolstered the country’s ICT growth momentum.

In a bid to enrich its ICT talent pool in Kenya, Huawei Technologies (Kenya) launched the Huawei ICT Academy, a school-enterprise co-operation project with institutions of higher learning. The academy works to help identify and incubate young ICT talent in the ICT industry through provision of world-class training opportunities. Since its launch in 2008, Huawei ICT Academy has partnered with over 50 universities, TVETS and colleges in the country, providing access to cutting-edge technology training in IT infrastructure, Application and Software engineering, Datacom and Optical networks engineering, ICT project management, AI and Big Data engineering etc.

Annually over 4,000 university students are trained through the different programs under the Huawei ICT Academy Umbrella. The Huawei ICT Academy endeavours to bridge the ICT skill gap by through capacity building and building a talent ecosystem that will contribute to the growth of Kenya’s digital economy.

Collaborative effort

Realising the full potential of ICT in addressing youth unemployment requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders. The government needs to prioritise investments in ICT infrastructure, ensuring widespread access to high-speed Internet and digital technologies, especially in underserved rural areas. Additionally, policies should be formulated to encourage the growth of the digital economy, including incentives for ICT start-ups and measures to attract foreign investment in the sector. Furthermore, collaboration between the government, private sector, academia, and civil society is essential to bridge the digital divide and equip young Kenyans with the skills needed for the jobs of the future. Initiatives such as mentorship programs, internship opportunities, awards scheme such as the Huawei ICT Competition awards, and vocational training in ICT-related fields can help nurture talent and foster innovation.

From all indications, Kenya has the capacity and the goodwill to create a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship that can empower its youth to shape their own destinies. It's time for the country to embrace the digital revolution and unleash the full potential of its young people. The future of the nation depends on it.

The writer is a Public Relations Specialist at Huawei Technologies (Kenya) Co., Ltd. and a foremost champion of the Kenyan Women in Tech.





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