Kenya: Raila Odinga Eyes 'Hustlers' With New Youth Agenda to Rival Ruto's

20 September 2021

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has unveiled his 17-point agenda for young people.

The plan, which envisages creating a national boda boda fund and local assembly units for motorbikes, is seen as a move to rival Deputy President William Ruto's 'Hustler' narrative.

Mr Odinga said the fund and the units will make motorbikes "more available and affordable in order to harness and support the potential of the 2.4 million riders".

In a document called "My thoughts on policy interventions for Kenyan youth" and released on Sunday, Mr Odinga said he envisions proper training and providing young people with opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills.

"Creating opportunities, particularly jobs, for these young people is the biggest challenge this country has to deal with going into the future. All our policies must reflect this reality," he said.

His rival, Dr Ruto, has promised a Sh30 billion kitty to help 'hustlers', among them youth, mama mboga and boda boda riders. This, he hopes, will help him capture the support of small-scale businesses as he seeks to boost his influence ahead of the 2022 polls.

"Those complaining about the fundraisers should stop the complaints because next year we shall have a Sh30 billion kitty to help hustlers through our bottom-up approach," the DP announced in July.

But on Monday, Mr Odinga disclosed that his youth agenda, which borrows some proposals from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), envisages the creation of a stand-alone Ministry for Youth Affairs and mainstream appointments of young people into the next government.

"At independence, young leaders did a spectacular job of preparing Kenya for the future. The foundation the young leaders laid has brought Kenya this far," he noted.

The former Prime Minister said that with the help of the national government and the private sector, he conceives rolling out a Kenya National Youth Internship Programme targeting 10,000 enrollees per year and revamping industries across the 47 counties for 'Made in Kenya' products to provide employment opportunities for the youth and make use of and perfect their skills.

"KICOTEC by the Kitui County government would provide the guidance needed in this direction," he said.

He also underscored the need to maintain a data bank on skilled youth and source support, including extending specific incentives to SMEs run by craftsmen and artisans and ensuring that their passions become professions, industries and jobs.

"I propose that going forward, we consider creating a Youth Commission with equal representation of both genders and task it with advancing the participation of the youth in all spheres of public and private life, mainstreaming the youth perspectives in planning and decision-making, advising the national and county governments on the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes to secure sustainable livelihoods for the youth as well as facilitating generational mentorship and integration of African traditional values with contemporary youth lifestyles," he said.

"Real action"

In a bid to minimise taxation of new and small youth-owned businesses, the ODM leader plans to create a seven-year tax holiday for youth enterprises, in addition to extending tax incentives to organisations and companies that offer employment to the youth.

He also promised real action, "not just policies on paper, to enable young people start and stay in businesses," to redesign, revamp and re-launch Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) and make training and retraining of youth a constant in policies.

"In this regard, we will review HELB loans by expanding limits to reflect the cost of living in Kenya as it evolves, removing the interest rates accrued and CRB listing of the graduates. In addition, increase and expand bursaries in tertiary institutions, again, to reflect the reality of the cost of living," added Mr Odinga.

He promised to revamp, empower and activate the Youth One Stop Shops to provide strategic and youth-focused services, including access to ICT, entrepreneurship training and guidance and counselling on drugs and substance abuse, and HIV/Aids prevention.

"I also envision to activate Youth Internet Designate Spots and Zones across the country, with free internet and professional guidance services for youth to access the internet for jobs and other opportunities, re-engineer the National Youth Service, devolve its campuses to all the 47 counties in collaboration with the county governments and put it in charge of a mandatory induction and community services across the country," he said.

He also promised to support 1,000 young people every year with paid internships with the United Nations and other international agencies, and pursue a youth jobs migration programme to review the quality of jobs offered to young Kenyans abroad.

This, Mr Odinga noted, will ensure the security of young Kenyans taking up such jobs and make the entire process friendly, transparent and accountable.

"I also propose to review and reform the Youth Empowerment Development Fund (YEDF) to ensure credit access is youth-friendly, flexible and accessible to individual youths, youth groups and youth-owned SMEs as well as to create a toll-free Youth Call Centre that constitutes a digital platform that allows any young person to get any information on youth opportunities across government departments on their phone," he said.

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