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January 21, 2019

Why Kenya needs practical skills to maximise potential

President Uhuru Kenyatta fl ags off Kenya’s fi rst crude oil from the Turkana oil fi elds on June 3 /HESBOUN ETYANG’
President Uhuru Kenyatta fl ags off Kenya’s fi rst crude oil from the Turkana oil fi elds on June 3 /HESBOUN ETYANG’

The extractive sector in Kenya, which covers oil, gas and mining — has of late been booming. This follows the recent discovery of commercially viable resources, such as oil and gold.

The government estimates that the sector contributes about one per cent to the gross domestic product. This is, however, expected to hit 10 per cent by 2030, suggesting that there is a lot to be exploited.

Already, mapping out of Kenya’s mineral resources has been ongoing. However, lack of requisite skills threatens these efforts. This is because the number of skilled workers in the country does not match the extractives sector’s demand.

Further, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda also needs skills. The four pillars are manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing and food security.

In February last year, a Kenyan-German initiative on “Youth Employment and Technical Vocational Training (TVET)” was launched to fill the gap. This was during the German-African Business Summit in Nairobi.

This important initiative has gained momentum at a time when several players have signed an agreement committing themselves to play an active role in this initiative. They include the Education ministry, the German Embassy, several Kenyan and German companies, as well as GIZ and KfW as implementing partners.


In Germany, dual vocational training takes two phases, with businesses and vocational schools acting as equal partners. There are detailed curricula for both locations.

On-the-job training is performed by trained, tested and qualified instructors, who are also specialists in their respective fields. Training, whether on the job or in vocational training school, is practical in nature. The move ensures the best possible organisation and quality as onsite partners and guarantors. 

Aside from the cost of training, trainees generate income as part of value chain, simplifying the search for skilled workers and making positive contribution to the company’s image. 

Germany will support the programme as part of its development cooperation with Kenya, with a €20 million loan, €3 million technical assistance and €4 million grant. The total is estimated to hit Sh3 billion for the period of 2017 and 2018.

Being the first of its kind, this joint initiative shall combine both public and private investment. Among the signatories are Volkswagen Group South Africa, DT Dobie, Toyota Kenya, Krones, Siemens, Robert Bosch East Africa, B Braun, Kevian Kenya and Centurion Systems Ltd.

The Delegation of German Commerce and Industry, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers are also supporting the initiative.

Funding is provided by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has commissioned GIZ and KfW with the implementation.

 The initiative will focus on enhancing the technical level of Technical Training Institutes in the Greater Nairobi Area. Its goal is to establish a network of specialised “Centres of Excellence” for industry-oriented training in selected trade areas, such as car manufacturing or mechanical engineering.

These centres will cooperate closely with surrounding private industries so that students can receive high quality labour market-oriented training.

By establishing a close link between the manufacturing industry and training centres, the Kenyan-German initiative aims to create better employment opportunities for Kenyan youth.

 During the signing ceremony, German Ambassador Jutta Frasch highlighted the expertise of Germany in the sector of vocational training and reaffirmed its support for Kenya:

“We have one objective in common: We want to train young people, the future of Kenya, so that they are employable and Kenyan companies can find skilled labour to thrive and contribute to the further development of the country.”

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