Africa has the highest concentration of young people in the world. Nearly 300million people living in sub-Saharan Africa are aged between 10 and 24, and this number isn’t about to go down anytime soon as this age group is projected to nearly double to about 561 million.
With a large proportion of our country’s youth accounting for over 70% percent of the population, with Kenya having the largest rate of unemployed youth in East Africa, a lot needs to be done in boosting the prospects of young people. The need to look for more innovative solutions to the unemployment problem.
The formal job market creates only 50,000 jobs annually while the informal (Jua kali) sector is only able to produce 232,000 new jobs every year. This is against an entry ratio of 1.37 million new entrants into the labour market annually and many of those who are employed work in low paid, insecure jobs with little hope of advancement both in their careers and in what skills they get to acquire from these said jobs.
We need to invest more in our youth. In 2004 when the late Prof. Wangari Maathai delivered her Nobel lecture after receiving the Nobel peace prize, she said, “People have been persuaded to believe that because they are poor, they lack not only capital, but also knowledge and skills to address their challenges.
Why do we need to do this?
- We have the power to increase economic development by leveraging the talent, energy and increasingly new ideas and projects that the youth keep coming up with in order to create higher levels of overall development, financial growth and also to dramatically reduce the levels of unemployment. Young people have the right potential to run their own businesses, we just need to equip them with the right set of technical, financial and managerial skills to do so.
- Our country’s future will slowly sink unless we find ways of creating our own jobs. By harnessing the different and unique abilities and skills that we all have, the potential that we have in improving our own lives and those of the ones around us is enormous. We are still young, full of raw untapped energy and ideas bursting at the seams.
- Our educational system teaches students how to be good employees, not good employers. In return you have graduates who are neither properly equipped for their entry into the job market nor possess the necessary skills to be able to live in the outside world. All we got is an exodus of young people with degrees in their brown envelopes and an enormous HELB account to repay; and these same young people will be forced to tarmac for jobs, any kind of jobs, so as to at least get money that they can survive on, not live on. We should be putting up systems where students are able to discover their full potential, where they can learn about financial literacy, where they can learn how to create jobs instead of depending on getting one.
- Youth employment remains a barrier to the continent’s development and in order to harness and increase a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) the right policies and projects have to be put in place in order to turn a country’s unemployed youth into a population of economically productive adults. We need to invest more in the youth making a move from the informal sector into the SME sector and agricultural activities. Agriculture is the backbone of our country’s economy. There are numerous opportunities that lie in the agricultural sector yet the youth shy away from them while agriculture can provide them with a viable way to harvest success and grow a sustainable future.
Although the government and other stakeholders tend to put more focus on unemployment, there should be a greater effort to address market challenges that encompass remedies for unproductivity and poor quality jobs as well.
The KCB Group today launched a project dubbed “2Jiajiri” that seeks to help local youth to materialize their micro-entrepreneurship projects and transform them into small and medium scale employers in their own right. The result is a win-win situation where all stakeholders will benefit from the increased rate of wealth creation within this under-served constituency. A total of Kshs 10 billion has also been set aside every year for the next 5 years for the actualization of the #2Jiajiri program.
The KCB Foundation will also endeavor to complement the efforts of the Government of Kenya in catalyzing employment and wealth creation among the youth through their efforts in equipping the youth with the technical and managerial skills required to run an enterprise and also by tackling the issue of resource limitations specifically access to start up and working capital.
The objective of the project will be to provide 10,000 beneficiaries annually with the vocational and enterprise development skills necessary to drive employment and wealth creation in selected sectors inter alia; agricultural enterprise, automotive engineering, construction, beauty and domestic services. One of the most critical skills that this programme intends to impart to the youth is how to access, participate in and grow their enterprises through the public procurement system.
Visit the bank’s website www.kcbbankgroup.com and follow the hashtag #2Jiajiri and the KCB Group’s official twitter handle @KCBGroup for more information on the program.