Unemployment crisis needs quick solutions

All sectors and industries are useful but as we develop them we need to have quick fixes to stem the unemployment crisis.

A gentleman who works for an international organisation recently told me how he has started fearing his residential neighbourhood in a satellite area of Nairobi. He said that there are many idlers around the area. Many times he finds them inebriated with alcohol (mostly the cheap variety) and chewing khat or smoking something he may not tell. The problem is that they are mostly idle throughout the day and their source of income is suspect. Well, this is part of the crisis we face as a country as getting decent employment is difficult for many. Indeed many of our youth encounter difficulties landing any form of gainful employment. Large numbers exiting the schooling system do not get a decent life sustaining employment of any kind. The Kenyan population is rising fast and is estimated will reach 70 million in the 2030s and this means more pressure to the employment situation in the country.

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Kenya’s issues on development are well documented. There are adverse factors that have curtailed the country’s growth. Key among what has destroyed Kenya’s development has been corruption. It is well documented and known that corruption has over many years destroyed the country’s political, social and economic fabric. Why we have lagged in developing key industries and infrastructure that would have been a good base to create opportunities for employment has so much to do with corruption and our tribal polluted politics. Tribalism and clannism and associated vices are key pillars that protect corruption. Yet the corrupt just benefit as individuals, their families and their close social and political networks. Unemployment has to be viewed in the prism of the so many missed opportunities and destruction visited by corruption in the country over the years. The corruption monster has condemned generations to perpetual poverty and currently we have so many youth whose hope for any reasonable gainful employment is dim. You only need to go across many market centres across the country and listen to horrid stories of many families suffering under the weight of unemployed people. This is the problem that has created conditions that spur crime, alcoholism, drug addiction and youth getting into terrorist networks. This is untenable and unsustainable condition in a rather globalizing but complicated world which creates all manner of criminal opportunities. It should be noted that even the entrepreneurship mantra which we shout the loudest for the youth cannot succeed for many as the economic growth is limited to create adequacy to absorb them in the required numbers. The supply and demand law would mean heavy skewing of the former than the later. This would mean a high failure rate of micro to small enterprises as already evidenced in Kenya. Yet we have a chance to reverse all this. The current crackdown on corruption should create the requisite paradigm shift. We have to make corruption and its activities heavily punishable and punished. Nobody should beallowed to benefit or live off corruption proceeds. The investigations need to go very deep and wide. Corruption that involves stealing public money by any means or even tax evasion needs ruthless actions by the state followed by restitution.

Fighting corruption in Kenya in the past has been directionless and largely toothless.For now as we hope that due processes in law are followed and entrusted national government agencies do their job accordingly, we need to think on mass of people suffering unemployment. Unemployment in Kenya is a crisis that needs solutions. Some sectors like manufacturing and tourism that have potential to absorb all cadre of people in terms of qualifications in large numbers need quick thinking on how they can move to the next big level quite quickly. All sectors and industries are useful but as we develop them we need to have quick fixes to stem the unemployment crisis.

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