- The government should borrow a leaf from Singapore and Rwanda on job creation.
- To date, Singapore's is among the most stable in the world with no foreign debt, increased government revenue and increased job opportunities.
During his Jamhuri Day speech dubbed, “Connect, Innovate and Inspire” President William Ruto said his government plans to install 100,000km of digital highway through fibre optic to enable internet access in every part of the country.
This is to spur creation of one million jobs courtesy of technology. Moreover, the President highlighted what his government has achieved in education, climate change, agriculture, universal health care and access to credit in the last 90 days.
The President’s initiative on internet connectivity is commendable though too much emphasis of the same might exclude the less internet-savvy when it comes getting employment.
One needs not to go further on digital highway exclusion when 20,000 Kenyan who had smart phones during Jamhuri Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium got scholarships worth Sh100,000, each funded by the government after scanning QR codes.
The beneficiaries will study the course, ‘Navigate the dynamic digital world’ at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona State University.
Statistics indicate that unemployment rate in Kenya goes up every year. By early 2021, the World Bank report indicated that 5.7 per cent of Kenya’s labour force was out of work, up from 2.8 per cent in 2013.
On the brighter side, the same report revealed that an average household income could increase if more good quality jobs are made available for the one million Kenyans joining the labour force annually. A total of 85 per cent of those unemployed are under the age of 35.
So, while it is true that internet connectivity has made work easier to access banking and government services and other financial transactions, the digital highway is also a curse. Technological advancement has led to massive retrenchment in sectors such insurance, media and banks. Therefore, the government ought to see digital highway as both a blessing and a curse.
At some point it seems the government is not sure on strategies to create jobs. The safest way to create more jobs is to create equal platform for digital and physical space.
For instance, the Kenya Kwanza government abolished Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative that the Jubilee government had launched to create jobs for the youth. Within no time, Nairobi Governor Johnston Sakaja initiated a rebirth of Kazi kwa Vijana. The governor revealed that his government would employ youths to plant trees in the city for four days a week and earn Sh2, 400.
Amidst the confusion of creating more jobs, Sakaja was at it again when he closed entertainment joints in residential areas, rendering young waiters, DJs, bouncers and others within the sector jobless.
The government should borrow a leaf from Singapore and Rwanda on job creation. To date, Singapore's is among the most stable in the world with no foreign debt, increased government revenue and increased job opportunities. Part of the country’s economy is driven by manufacturing, financial services and tourism.
Rwanda's quest to revamp its economy after the 1994 genocide is pushed by the export of tea and coffee, tourism and foreign aid, which constituted 20 per cent of gross annual income.
This led to a decrease in employment in the country to 18.10 per cent in the third quarter of 2022, from 23 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
Over reliance on digital economy only might not create one million job opportunities. This means creating employment opportunities in Kenya needs political goodwill to fight corruption, nepotism and cartels in order to revive the agriculture sector, among other industries.
Writer is the principal, Bishop Hannington Institute, Mombasa