- UN describes Africa as the youngest continent in the world with 70 percent of its population under 30 years.
- Research also projects that by 2030, young Africans are expected to constitute 42 percent of global youth.
Today, August 12, 2023, we are celebrating International Youth Day.
According to the United Nations standards, a youth is a young person between the age of 18 to 35 years.
UN describes Africa as the youngest continent in the world with 70 percent of its population under 30 years.
Research also projects that by 2030, young Africans are expected to constitute 42 percent of global youth.
As we are celebrating the youth, we have to ask ourselves and the government, what policies have we come up with that touch on the youth?
Youth are the majority at the same time they are lacking behind in government appointments.
We have ignored the youth for many years. We keep telling them they are the leaders of tomorrow.
I disagree with that statement; youth are the power of today and the future is today because what we do for them today, determines their future.
Kenya is a country of 53 million people and according to National Council for Population and Development, 80 percent of them are below the age of 35 years.
In this percentage, we only know that only 3.1 million Kenyans are formally employed and I can bet, youth are less than 30 percent of this number. This means 70 per cent of them are in the informal sector.
The majority of the youth are jobless and some are hustling and their hustles are not recognized by the government.
I don’t mean the government should tax them. I’m talking about how the state can come up with policies that help their businesses grow.
Kenya is Africa’s Silicon Savannah and I have a couple of ideas on how to create jobs.
I am speaking as a man who was once a jobless youth from Kibera slums and I went through all these hardships of being a youth without a job.
In that state of mind, you can be easily manipulated to do any act of violence as you have nothing to lose.
Manufacturing is a big thing. Can the government come up with ideas on how to change raw products into finished goods?
Our land is good for cotton farming and we can produce our own fiber to manufacture millions of products.
Our country produces million tons of avocados and mangoes, but why do we have to export them while they are raw when we can do value addition and create jobs in the process?
We should also have industries in Kenya that can process them and export them as end products.
We know many countries create job opportunities for their young people through the manufacturing process. We should not sell tomatoes, we should sell tomato sauce.
Kenya has the best education in Africa and we speak very fluent English as part of our culture.
We can set up call centres in Kenya for mature American and Western companies.
We just need to train our youth for the right market.
If we don’t create opportunities in this area, then our country will be known as an epicentre of forgeries as most of our youth help students to steal exams.
This is something that the government should take positively and equip this market because our youth are talented.
Our youth should not just learn computers for their sake, it should help them venture into the job market.
Africa also has the best climate for agriculture. I don’t understand why we are complaining about the cost of unga yet with today’s technology, we can produce enough food to feed ourselves and export the surplus.
Look at a country like Israel which is in a desert yet it produces a lot of food.
Why are we lacking behind? The government can come up with policies and tax incentives that help the youth venture into smart agriculture.
If we do this, we will never have a food shortage in Kenya and our youth will get jobs. All these are possible.
The President already did something good which has given capital to the youth – Hustler Fund.
For me, that is a good gesture and he has done it through technology.
As SHOFCO, we are working on training the youth in the slums so that as they get the Hustler Fund, they have a plan on how they will spend it to create jobs for themselves and earn a living.
There is hope
Two things make me hopeful about our country. One is our new Competency-Based Curriculum that emphasizes creativity.
For many years, we were using a colonial education system where a teacher is always right and the students have to listen.
CBC is becoming collaborative and engaging.
We can create jobs through creativity that comes with innovative ideas.
If CBC is well implemented, then we are going to have a generation of youth who are innovative and focused on creating jobs. Our 8-4-4 was more for job seekers and not job creators.
Two, the Hustler Fund and the internship program that the government has rolled out.
Capital is very important for a young person, but the government cannot do everything.
That is why SHOFCO has come up with financial literacy program for the youth living in slums. We want them to get the funds and put them to good use.
To the youth, stop looking for shortcuts. Nothing comes easy. Follow the process and always remember integrity is key in life.
Your name and reputation are more important than the stolen millions. Happy International Youth Day.
Dr. Kennedy Odede, is the founder and CEO of Shofco, a member of USAid Advisory Board, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, multiple humanitarian award winner, including 2022 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, best-selling author. Twitter @KennedyOdede