LETTERS: Tap into youth potential for economic growth

Jobseekers wait to be interviewed. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Recent data show some slight improvement in poverty reduction. However, there has been a debate that despite the improvement recorded across different economic sectors, it has not translated into the broadbased economic and social development needed to lift young people out of poverty and reduce the inequalities.

Thus we continue to see high unemployment and few opportunities to absorb new labour market young entrants. This is not just a Kenyan problem, it is an African continent challenge in need of concerted effort. World Bank reports indicate that sub-Saharan Africa has the largest youth bulge in the world with a projection of 42.5 million growth by 2020. By end of 2040, young African youth joining the labour market will be higher than the rest of the world combined.

Millions of jobs must be created to deal with the looming crisis. Reports by International Labour Organisation are equally painting a dull picture. 60 percent of young people are either unemployed, working in low quality irregular jobs or literally not making any contribution to the economy.

There is need to undertake a critical analysis of youth capabilities and group them into physical investment, human capital and technological effort with a view of creating linkages and synergy to contribute to national performance.


A case in point is the oil and gas economic sector which is growing tremendously but not without challenges. If physical capital is accumulated for this sector without the necessary competences and innovative technology balance, then it becomes a complete was of time. Economic theories show us that physical capital investment is clearly very necessary for economic growth, but this should be coupled with deliberate efforts to create efficiencies.

The young people’s human capital should be looked as the competences acquired through formal education, on-the-job training and experience.

This is because as complex and sophisticated technologies continue to be adopted, the more the need for advanced and specialized skill on the part of the youthful workforce.

Given the evolutionary approaches to the issues of technology among young people, it is important to consider assigning a central role to the need to create indigenous technological efforts in mastering new technologies, adapting them to local conditions so as to optimally exploit them.

The economic sectors that are strongly growing in Kenya will require young people who can set up, operate, diversity and expand specific knowledge and competencies in technology because there is an obvious reciprocal causality relation between them and economic performance. Innovation can help alleviate challenges, which encompass health and demographic challenges, and social exclusion and inequalities, among others.

These innovations create employment opportunities and addressing particular challenges faced by mostly lower income groups.Young people start innovations on a small scale for example within the boundaries of the organisation where it is first developed and applied.

Supportive structures, research and development as well as other incentives should be put in place for innovations to spread across the economy and equally benefit organisations in different sectors and of different sizes through diffusions.

Kellen Kiambati Via Email.

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