UNEMPLOYMENT

Only talent can rescue Kenya's youths

Many young people have been listed by the Credit Reference Bureau for unpaid loans.

In Summary

• Education was traditionally and is still regarded as the key to success. Our system is, however, designed like a bottleneck

• The number of formal jobs has been on the decline. According to the KNBS, the number of formal jobs decreased from 19 per cent in 2009 to 16.6 per cent in 2017.

A section of youths who completed a one day training on access to government procurement opportunities (AGPO) program in Kibera on February 13, 2019.
A section of youths who completed a one day training on access to government procurement opportunities (AGPO) program in Kibera on February 13, 2019.
Image: COLLINS KWEYU

The cost of living in Kenya is becoming higher. Just a few days ago, the price of fuel was hiked yet again.

The unemployment rate is also increasing, and naturally, the youth are the most affected. This is because they are the most energetic lot and compose the bigger proportion of the population seeking jobs.

They are also the majority of graduating from universities and colleges.

 

A young person in Kenya has three options of breaking out of poverty or become financially independent —education, entrepreneurship and talent.

Education was traditionally and is still regarded as the key to success. Our system is, however, designed like a bottleneck. You start when you are many but only a chosen few reach Canaan, the Promised Land.

 
 

Policies such as the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school will correct this. However, the proposal by university vice-chancellors to increase university fees will greatly undermine the transition of students from secondary schools to the university, if implemented.

The number of formal jobs has been on the decline. According to the KNBS, the number of formal jobs decreased from 19 per cent in 2009 to 16.6 per cent in 2017.

The number of informal jobs has increased from 81 per cent to 83.4 per cent in the respective years.

Therefore, a typical young person using the route of education will experience a roadblock when it comes to finding a formal job.

The few opportunities available are limited to those with connections in the corporate world. Therefore, jobs are awarded on the basis of who knows who instead of who merits what.

 

Here some can decide to proceed and do post-graduate degrees. However, a typical Kenyan youth cannot afford to pay for this. It is reserved for those from well-off backgrounds unless in case one has managed to secure a scholarship.

Those who don’t find a formal job have an option of going into entrepreneurship/informal sector. And it’s not easy either. The availability of capital is the major problem a typical Kenyan youth will face.

According to a report by the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, access to formal finance is the major problem being faced by small and medium enterprises in Kenya.

Many young people have been listed by the Credit Reference Bureau for unpaid loans. This has tarnished their creditworthiness.

It is a tool of modern imperialism. However, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, remind us in The Communist Manifesto that the ruling ideas of each age have been the ideas of the ruling class.

Initiatives such as the 30 per cent procurement rule meant to benefit the youth, women and disabled persons were swept away by corruption. Therefore, the young person is left with good ideas but no capital to actualise them.

He falls prey to ‘businessmen’ pretending to incubate these ideas by providing the needed capital yet, their sole objective is to steal these ideas and use them to expand their business empires.

 
 

Those who decide to start small as hawkers are inhibited by government policies. In Nairobi, for instance, hawkers are not allowed in the CBD. In Githurai and Roysambu, their ‘vibanda’ for small business people were demolished with the claim that they are in areas reserved as walking paths.

Completely disappointed, the young person turns to the route of talent. Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations, notes that talents are not as scarce as they seem. People have talents only that they restrain from using them because they are not convinced that the returns can be high.

This route has not been tampered with as much. This is thanks to the fact that these ‘businessmen’ in Kenya don’t own social media.

Social media has been instrumental in showcasing young talents. Youths such as actor-comedian Desagu have climbed through this ladder.

Discovering what you can do best without a lot of hustle and bustle is the only way out. Gone are the days when education was the key, now talent is the key. Thanks to social media displaying it has become much easier.

Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. [email protected]

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