•According to the Youth Impact Labs, Kenya’s online gig economy is currently valued at $100 million and employs an estimated 36,000 Kenyans.
•Beyond the campaigns and the new coalition building, it is time to look ourselves in the mirror and bequeath our children and future generations a more promising country.
As politicians elbow each other for attention in the run-up to the country’s general election we have a lot of promises regarding fixing what ails Kenya.
This debate will end up with a new administration next year which is likely to shape our political and public discourse for another ten years.
Have you ever wondered where all these GK and parastatal owned vehicles are always rushing to? They will push everyone around and drive off at top speed to their ivory tower offices.
But upon arriving, the jackets are hung on the seats and officers laze around waiting to be sped off back home in the evening.
What do these officers rush off to do? Indeed there is little to show for all these bureaucrats we employ and pay while millions of our youth sit around waiting to be guided into the uncertain future with little prospect of a well-paying job.
It is no wonder that our embassies and high commissions abroad are filled with elite persons who would be much happier back home in Kenya playing a round of polo or golf.
We have trade attaches in these embassies who cannot account for how much trade gains they have won for Kenya since their postings.
This while many value addition industries in Kenya are in their infancy processing products like honey, canned fruits, milk and tea.
These industries have the potential of employing many more Kenyans were they to access more international markets.
While the efforts of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, KEPSA and KNCCI are laudable, a lot more still requires to be done.
According to the Youth Impact Labs, Kenya’s online gig economy is currently valued at $100 million and employs an estimated 36,000 Kenyans.
This is a drop in the ocean when compared with the potential.
Meanwhile, our Jua Kali sectors have continued to labour under rudimentary technology producing the same low quality of goods for years.
Although our universities and other tertiary institutions have been producing skilled capacities who otherwise have no capital and nowhere to exercise their knowledge and passion.
China on the other hand managed to lift a massive 350 million of its population out of poverty.
This was done mainly through a technical skills emphasis in their education system coupled with a government-supported growth of their cottage industries, many of which operated from homes while producing simple items such as toys, safety pins and paper clips for a global market.
These global markets were made possible by government initiatives by way of bilateral trade agreements with many other countries including Kenya.
In addition, the heavy investment industries were mostly started as government parastatals which were professionally run in diverse industries such as automotive, construction equipment, pharmaceutical and textile sectors.
Many of these industrial concerns have gone on to be listed in the stock markets of the world.
Kenya is required to create 20 million jobs over the next ten years to absorb the youth into gainful employment and who then can take advantage of our now over 20 years of massive investment in infrastructural development.
Large untapped markets await our Kenyan products in such countries as DRC Congo, South Sudan, Tanzania and Nigeria many of whose populations are all projected to be among the top ten in the world by the year 2040. This will however call for large government support of the MSME sectors well beyond doing seminars and retreats and into putting our money where the mouth is.
It is no longer time for the government as usual if we are to maintain the peace and stability we have enjoyed since independence.
Indeed it is time for Kenya to become the hub for Africa where all Africans are welcome to live and work without the fear of xenophobic attacks or targeted harassment.
The next crop of politicians will not easily get away with promising utopia without tangible results as was recently displayed in Ghana when youth returned donations of rice from politicians while no change was being seen in the job situation.
And while at it, have you ever wondered why alcohol selling entertainment clubs have large parking areas for their revellers while we are told not to drink and drive?
Most of these revellers can afford to employ a permanent driver thereby providing a job to another Kenyan.
We should reach a point where drunk driving is punished by permanent withdrawal of the driving license and thereby saving lives on our roads while creating a forced job for an eager Kenyan youth.
It is noteworthy that a prominent Kenyan Senator got his break into the political arena while working as a driver and through mentorship, his skills and natural gifting were recognized by his employer and thus bringing him to the high table.
Indeed our youth are just looking for a chance to get a breakthrough.
Beyond the campaigns and the new coalition building, it is time to look ourselves in the mirror and bequeath our children and future generations a more promising country.
Singapore did it, Malaysia and South Korea did it too. So have all the first world countries that were nonetheless severely ravaged by World War II.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris