Kenyan Economy

Unemployment: how Kenya’s high rate of unemployment could be a ticking time bomb

Hundreds of youths queue for a job interview in Nairobi. image/courtesy

Late last year, a post allegedly by an Alumni of Kenyatta University student was posted on twitter:

“After struggling in Kenyatta University for a good

4 years to get a degree.. Now I am Landing in Doha,

Qatar as a night watchman… Thank you

Kenyatta University and Kenya

For your continued Support” #tears

The comments that followed this post were heartbreaking. And I’m certain any primary or secondary school student reading those comments would definitely have set his books on fire. Reading the comments, with a heavy heart, reminded me of the words “Ask not what a country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. It got me wondering, what if that country is Kenya, or is in Africa, where east or west, there is little to celebrate about for the majority citizens? Closing my eyes, I am not sure many youths could find anything to sacrifice for my motherland. It’s not once or twice in the recent past that I have heard people around me wish that they can just run away from Kenya. Where did we go wrong?

Unemployed kenyans hold demonstration seeking for more jobs to locals. image/courtesy

There is no question that the youths in this country feel ignored, helpless in their own country. And as a young man, I know there is no worse pain than waking up to a day without hope and seeing the end of the day with no achievement. Fear, pain, a sense of loss and hopelessness clutches over you. And you are left with nothing but a deep sense of hatred for yourself and those around you. All this, coupled with the laxity of those in power as they continue to plunder and rape the meager resources left in our motherland after years of plunder and daylight theft can only leave you depressed.

What hurts even more is that its those who are in power, stealing from us day by day, who ask us to die for our country, all this as they sit in their posh offices with no sense of guilt. Admit it, the harm we have caused this country, because we all bear responsibility for it, will take generations to heal.

Kenyans display their trade by the roadside. image/courtesy

Ask any Kenyan the challenges we face and Corruption, joblessness, tribalism and over taxation will top the list. We have embedded corruption as a national norm, in fact, corruption is never seen as a crime, and it’s a part of our system. Just look at how traffic police shamelessly pocket it and you won’t have to ask. And as a people, we vote for the corrupt, murderous and thieves and send them to parliament to represent us and legislate on how to make our country better, fight corruption and heal our land. Just like sending a wolf to the wolf to take care of the sheep. And when things go wrong, we replace one thief with another all in the name of change.

Back to Unemployment; It’s not once that those in government have come out asking graduates and university students to focus on being job creators and not employees. This has been the bulls*** story of a clueless political class. Tell me, a student dependent on government loans, Harambee, and donations from friends, where do they get the funds to start businesses from in a country where bank loans are not only expensive but also completely impossible to get especially if you have no business that is financially healthy? And the same people who tell us to be job creators have spent all their lives employed in government and the only business they have done is being tenderpreneurs with the government where they run no risk of loss?

The problem with unemployment has not started today, but with a highly educated workforce, and a majority youthful nation, this problem needs to be addressed soberly. But as a problem that is not affecting the politicians, until they lose the next election, no government official wants to face it. They responded fast to Coronavirus; because it threatened their lives, joblessness is a more pressing issue that threatens the livelihoods of the majority poor, but it doesn’t bother them. As all this happens, we continue importing everything from Asia and the west, from fist to toothpicks, to second-hand clothes and some new, low-quality Chinese clothes only meant for Africa.

image source/twitter

When politicians see us, they see votes. When the western countries see Africa, they look at us in terms of numbers, and numbers mean a bigger market for their products and services. That way, they create more job opportunities for their citizens, to manufacture goods for African countries. And as all this happens, our leaders rush to sign trade pacts with these countries, agreements that tend to enslave us more to their goods, to keep their economies running as our local economies crumble. Simply put, it is our political leaders that mortgaged our countries, our livelihoods, our prosperity, and the future of our generations to the developed economies for their own selfish interests.

It has been said time and time again that the next phase of violence in Kenya will not be tribal, but class war. And as the ‘hustler’ movement takes shape, what is unfolding in front of us may be the next phase of confrontation in our country. After years of neglect, the problem of unemployment could be so big to continually shove it under. And instead of our leaders addressing the issue from the route, temporary solutions like ‘kazi mtaani’ , ‘kazi kwa vijana’, and giving youths wheelbarrows have been used. Yet in reality, a more sober and long-lasting solution needs to be found by the government. Otherwise, it won’t be long before this energy is directed towards the wrong course