The Star (Nairobi)

17 August 2012

Kenya: 70 Percent of the Unemployed are Youths, Report Shows

Youth unemployment in Kenya stands at 70 per cent of total number of the jobless. This translates to nearly three million young people between the age of 15 and 35 being out of work, according to the International Labor Organisation 2010 estimates. However, the government is yet to come up with sustainable ways of creating job opportunities for these youth.

The African Economic Outlook report 2012 compiled by the African Development Bank blames poor national policies for the unemployment. According to the report, despite existence of initiatives such as Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Women Enterprise Fund all meant to directly target the unemployed youth groups with capital to start business, the numbers are rising at an alarming rate as more youths are churned out.

The youth fund which has been revolving for the last five years has so far disbursed a total of Sh5.96 billion to about 157,538 youth enterprises, organised youth trade fairs, built sheds and stalls for youth, and started pre-financing youth training, among other interventions. "Most of the new businesses do not survive beyond five years, and the ones started by the younger people without any workplace experience collapse faster" said Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

"This is why governments need to create policies that allow expansion of public sector employment through which young people can gain working experience before going into private practice,." The informal sector currently accounts for over 75 per cent of total employment in Kenya, putting smallholder enterprises at the centre of job creation.

"The free primary education and subsidised secondary education policy equipping the Kenyan population with basic life skills and is a strong foundation for a well-trained labour force is a progressive strategy for reducing youth unemployment but it long-term in nature. This means that in the short to medium term Kenya will continue to experience rampant youth unemployment," the report says.

While launching the report, Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya said results of some policies implemented in the ICT sector are bearing fruits by creating sustainable jobs for the youth and may be replicated in other sectors of the economy. "Kenya is continuously reviewing its policies to conform relevant training needs, to ensure the necessary skills are available for the market as well as ease of placement in appropriate jobs for the youths who go through our institutions," Oparanya said.

The ICT sub sector is credited with creating over 10 per cent of jobs recorded for each of the last five years through small scale enterprises, services and income from royalties to innovators.

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