Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta today said Africa has to invest more in its youth for it to become a continent of hope and prosperity.
The President said he was committed to keep up the momentum to create more jobs for the youth in Kenya and would each year host a summit on jobs to engage directly with young people.
"I commit to host an annual Jobs Summit which will engage young people, partners and all stakeholders to take stock of progress and advance action to increase the quality and quantum of jobs available to our young people," said the President.
The President said this as he launched a public-private partnership program that brings together MasterCard Foundation, Kenyan banks and the Government to support job creation by supporting SME's to the tune of more than Shs 100 billion.
The Mastercard Foundation's Young Africa Works Kenya platform aims to work closely with technical colleges and linking the youth to the job market. It will also create jobs by supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises through access to funds and training.
President Kenyatta said the youth are Africa's biggest asset and governments should focus necessary policy attention on them.
"I urge Africa to invest in the youth and we will become a continent of hope, dignity and prosperity," said the President when he spoke at the event held at Radison Blu Hotel in Nairobi.
He said the majority of Africa's population is composed of the youth, persons below 25 years of age and that is why all policy decisions must give them due consideration. In Kenya alone, there are 17 million children in primary and secondary schools, giving a true picture of Africa's youth bulge.
The President said Africa is on the cusp of an economic transformation with the adoption of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement which will provide a common marketplace for over 1 billion people.
He said the common market arrangement will create enormous opportunities for Africa's youth who are full of energy and innovative ideas.
The President called on Africa's leaders to make continental integration a reality because it will create more avenues for economic growth and social integration.
"Socio-economic integration of the African people is the greatest task of our time and our generation," said the President who was joined by Cabinet Secretaries George Magoha (Education), Amina Mohamed (Sports, Culture and Heritage) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).
The President said the Mastercard Foundation's Young Africa Works Kenya program is a strong platform to expand job opportunities for young people in the country.
"We are now seeking to unlock their potential; with this platform being an important avenue to allow them to transform their lives, the country and the world. The programme we are about to launch today will contribute significantly towards this goal in several ways," said the President.
He said the program will support TVETs to improve quality of content and instruction, provide 21st century employability skills and demand-driven training. The program will in addition create pathways to work for graduates including internships and apprenticeships.
The President said the program will also work hand in hand with the Government's Ajira program to create opportunities for online jobs for the youth.
"Kenya is on the verge of a digital transformation and this programme will catalyze the creation of new and quality jobs across the entire country," said the President.
The program will also enhance the creation, growth, sustainability and productivity of over 200,000 Micro, Small and Medium Scale enterprises (MSMEs).
Support for MSMEs will be achieved through a partnership between Equity Group and Equity Bank Foundation and Mastercard Foundation on one hand and KCB Group and KCB Foundation and Mastercard Foundation on the other.
"Together, these institutions will provide about 100 billion Kenya Shillings in capital, business development services, and market linkages," the President said.
The organisations participating in the program will also provide financial and digital literacy and entrepreneurship training to MSMEs to support owners to grow and sustain their businesses and to mentor other entrepreneurs in the network.