Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured Kenyans that his administration will continue investing in interventions that seek to better the wellbeing of young people.
The President said Kenya's youthful population is the nation's greatest resource, with the highest potential to uplift the country's socioeconomic profile.
"I recognized from the very beginning of my Administration that this generation of young people has the potential to expand Kenya's and Africa's productive workforce and turn Africa into a frontier of growth and innovation.
"Therefore, my Administration has prioritized investments in young people. These investments are yielding results and we can confidently say that Kenya has made good progress towards the achievement of objectives of GenU," the President said.
The Head of State spoke at State House on Wednesday, Nairobi when he presided over the virtual launch of Kenya's chapter of Generation Unlimited (GenU).
GenU is a United Nations youth empowerment program launched in 2018 with the goal of ensuring that young people, aged between 10 and 24 years are either in school, training or employment by 2030.
The President said the youth account for roughly three quarters of the Kenyan population adding that the Government's increased investment in youth leaning sectors such as education, ICTs and entrepreneurship over the years was out of the appreciation of the immense ecomic potential held by young people.
"To build strong foundations for competitiveness and productivity and provide 21st century employability skills, the education sector continues to receive the lion's share of the recurrent budget, more than 25% of the total," the President said.
"Further, we have undertaken major reforms in the education sector including making Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) more relevant and better aligned to the needs of the economy," he added.
President Kenyatta said his administration's main preoccupation is creation of jobs and sustainable livelihoods for young people.
"In this context, we have taken steps to expand the internship programme, with the aim of connecting skilled youth with job opportunities and enable them to acquire practical and workplace skills," he said.
The President said the Big 4 development agenda offers expanded employment opportunities in agriculture, health, housing, and manufacturing.
Besides the Big 4, the President said his administration is putting more emphasis on the digital economy and the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) as key sources of employment for the youth.
"Since its inception in 2017, more than 50,000 youth have been trained and mentored through the Ajira programme on how to access work from digital platforms; and close to 700,000 Kenyans now source work from digital platforms," he said.
On MSMEs, the President said the government has put in place mechanisms to support the survival, growth and productivity of the sector.
"Programmes such as "Stawi" are providing financial support to MSMEs that previously had been locked out of the formal banking sector.
"To support young people grow their enterprises, 30% of government procurement opportunities have been set aside for enterprises owned by the youth, women, and persons with disability," he said.
Despite the progress made in opening up the economy and creating employment opportunities, the Head of State acknowledged that the country is still faced with a huge challenge of unemployment.
"Even as we acknowledge the progress we have made, I recognize that a lot more needs to be done. A significant number of our young people are unemployed or underemployed, and this situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.
"I am also aware that our young people face significant structural, financial, or technical barriers that limit their access to sustainable jobs," the President said.
President Kenyatta welcomed the launch of GenU in Kenya saying the platform will assist the Government in unlocking the potential of Kenyan youth.
"It is for this reason that I welcome GenU as a platform, which will enable leaders, partners, and stakeholders to make investments that will unlock the potential of Kenyan youth," the Head of State said.
The virtual launch was also attended and addressed by ICT and Youth CS Joe Mucheru, State House Deputy Chief of Staff incharge of Strategy Ruth Kagia and United Nations Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee.