18 February 2013

Kenya: Job Creation, Security Are Nairobi?s Priorities


A number of important national issues were discussed in the Presidential Debate televised nationally and internationally last week.

But three main challenges remain critical for most, indeed all, Nairobians irrespective of their social, economic and even political status; these are the triple issues of jobs, crime and security.

That Kenya does not create enough jobs for her citizens is a fact that every leader--whether at County or National level--concedes.

That things cannot be allowed to continue this way and we expect to maintain and preserve law, peace and order in urban settings is a fact few in the country concede.

But unfortunately this is the cold, hard and bitter reality that we face as a nation. Nairobi County, being the capital city of the country holds a special place nationally and internationally. The city county besides being the most populated is also the economic engine of the country and indeed the East Africa region.

It is for this reason that addressing the triple questions of jobs, crime and security should be the Number One priority for the leadership that will take charge of the Nairobi County Government after the March 4th general elections.

But addressing one without addressing the others will not solve the biggest challenges of our time.

In order to ensure a secure environment for personal, business and industrial growth in Nairobi County we employ a wholesome strategy to deal with insecurity in all its manifestations.

Arresting and prosecuting offenders never provides a permanent solution to insecurity and crime. It is a combined strategy of dealing with the root causes of insecurity and crime coupled with the provision of adequate deterrence that will provide a long-term and effective solution to these vices.

Under the right leadership, the Nairobi County government will address insecurity and crime in all its forms ranging from petty on-street crime to white-collar crime, burglary to terrorism.

The first steps towards dealing with these social vices in a wholesome approach will be for the Nairobi County government to streamline the business enabling environment by simplifying licensing procedures, providing incentives to new investors, offering job-creation linked tax-breaks, improving infrastructure, supporting innovative start-ups, working in tandem with Vision 2030 Medium Term Program, amidst a raft of other incentives that will help Nairobi County become the job creation centre of the country.

With more jobs available for the school-leaving youths, the crime rate in Nairobi County will naturally go down to insignificant levels, which in turn will spur more business.

Of course you cannot talk about providing jobs without thinking about modernizing the existing technology. Right now although the Jua Kali sector provides employment and services to a very significant number of Kenyans in urban areas, not much thought has given to modernizing the Jua Kali technology in alignment with changing times.

Take for instance Jua Kali mechanics. Cars have changed over time and engine technology where cars had something known as 'points' is no longer in existence.

Unfortunately not much has been done to equip our Jua Kali mechanics with modern equipment to be able to service modern cars. It is such and other technology gaps that I would like to see Nairobi County administration being in the front-line of providing solutions. How should this be done? Through private-public partnerships where Jua Kali businesses are given access to cheap loans to modernize their technology while at the same time investing in knowledge enhancement.

With support from the County Government, our Jua Kali sector will once again regains its competitive edge and become one of the key drivers of job creation and our economy.

It saddens me to see how far behind we are even when it comes to basic technology and expertise. For instance when a company such as Mumias Sugar or Kenya Pipeline Company requires a high-pressure welder, they have had to import the expertise from India and yet we have colleges of technology that can provide training.

Our biggest problem as a country is having training that is not job-aligned. These are the issues that Nairobi County government will have to provide leadership in. And that is the kind of leadership I envisage if I am honoured to become the first Governor of Nairobi County.

And once we do that, Nairobi will soon cease to be classified in the same vein as Tehran as one of the world's worst cities to live in--as was done recently by the respected Economist Intelligence Unit, a publication of the Economist weekly newspaper.

The writer is an aspiring governor for Nairobi.

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