• BBI focuses on the young people trying to start businesses and who are frustrated by how taxation works and all the barriers to their thriving. It calls for a seven-year tax holiday for new businesses, which obviously will be started by youth.
• What this means is that better engagement for youth and enabling them to be part of tackling these challenges is the solution
As we take our Christmas break, I believe it’s a good time to reflect on the plight of the Kenyan youth. Many young people will be with us in various family and social gatherings asking us what we are doing for their future.
It is even more important to look at how the BBI report seeks to address challenges facing young people in Kenya. Faced with mass unemployment and the resultant frustration, large parts of an entire generation are almost lost to dissipation, desperation and crime.
What the youth challenge means is that economic opportunities driven by a high growth rate must outpace the increase in population. However, development literature tells us that to bend the curve of poverty, one needs growth of above seven per cent sustained over several years.
Granted, even with this situation, bold visions and actions that will ensure prosperity and broad opportunities for the youth as a way of addressing one of the main challenges facing the country is what is needed now than ever before.
And this is the key question most Kenyans and youth would like answered. This is because the inability of the economy to keep up with our aspirations is far and away the biggest issue hurting the country.
The rate at which graduates find jobs depends on how prepared the labour market is to receive them, how ready they are for the labour market and the economy to support the same.
Fortunately, the BBI report starts by recognizing this as one of our major challenges. It notes that ‘we suffer from extreme income inequality, with our form of economic growth not closing the gap.’
There are irrational incentives against innovation, growth and job creation, together with too many Kenyans lacking decent income and investment in Kenya being frustrated by persistent gatekeeping and rent-seeking by those in Government.’
BBI says ‘starting and doing business in Kenya, particularly for youth-led small businesses, is an invitation to innumerable obstacles, unlike in other countries where entrepreneurs are encouraged and assisted to venture. It also matters who you are, who you know and where you live.’ This is a very welcome situation, if and when implemented.
One interesting recommendation which will be sweet to ears of youth is the call for an all-out assault on cartel-like groupings in politics and the private sector whose illegal crony capitalism frustrates producers and consumers; farmers get little for their efforts while consumers pay top shilling.
This is because access to gainful employment and income opportunities for young people in Kenya is hindered by corruption, the lack of capital, information, and relevant skills, among Kenyans, most of who are youthful population.
The country, therefore, needs a new front in ensuring such an endeavour must focus on the small businesses and smallholder farms, removing barriers to them in government, lowering the taxes that youth pay, and even forcing banks to lend a minimum percentage to these priority sectors.
BBI focuses on the young people trying to start businesses and who are frustrated by how taxation works and all the barriers to their thriving. It calls for a seven-year tax holiday for new businesses, which obviously will be started by youth.
However, one of the setbacks in efforts to turn around the fortunes of the youth in Kenya has been the failure to adequately implement the existing laws.
What this means is that better engagement for youth and enabling them to be part of tackling these challenges is the solution — whether in health, economy and SMEs or issues related to peace-building or even national cohesion.
One can actually say that there’s no peace without the youth. We need to work with them and believe their abilities to help in shaping their own future. And using the BBI we can put together workable plans that will lift up the youth.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas day tomorrow. Let’s responsibly make merry and not forget to share with the less fortunate.