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The Kenyan Youth; An auctioned future

There is a new Sherriff in town and true to it, he came with a big bang with the right language and swag that endeared his administration to my peers ( the youth),the fact that our president can relate to our language as young people is an admiration that has carried the hopes of many.

I am one of those hopefuls souls that believed having a “cool” president and his deputy riding on a youthful presidency, a team that came to power displaying digital maverickness and a promise to conduct the affairs of government with outmost transparency and accountability supported by technology; two years down the line, I am yet to see the actual tangible results especially in the areas of youth employment.

Youth unemployment is the greatest problem of our time and our government knows this too well leading to a pre-election promise of creating employment for her youthful citizens. I know efforts have been made towards this end with the 30% procurement reservation of public tenders to youth; women and persons with disabilities to enable them do business with government thus an avenue of job creation. While this has been a positive signal, the process of accessing the actual tenders is still riddled with secrecy with “tender-preneurs” who have been in the business long enough registering proxy companies to beat the system that is meant to benefit the youth.

Another effort has been through the National Youth Service where young people are recruited and trained in various trades but agree to serve the nation in various roles as a pre-condition to receive the training, one can argue that the kind of jobs given to this youngsters and indeed even in the 30% procurement provision; its only small-scale businesses like supplying newspapers, calling cards and the likes while big business is left to the “cowboys”

I am particularly enraged when I see our government taunt itself as a serious duty-bearer towards job creation that will solve the unemployment problem in Kenya. Her actions are actually on the contrary and let`s talk facts here. Our government has entered into business partnerships with various companies from China; all of you know the human rights history of China and her emancipation agenda.

Nearly all of our roads (highways and the likes) are being built by the Chinese through some arrangements with Banks in China that finance most of the projects allowing the government to repay over a longer period. While this looks as a cozy relationship, it is actually not because we are driving the country into deep debts that have to be paid by the youngsters who do not know what agreements are made now but are bound by the signed documents.

Apart from putting the country into debts, the Chinese bring along their own workers (who I am informed are mostly prisoners) thus guaranteed cheap labour leaving our youth still jobless yet the government is actively talking of creating employment! One wonders how that mathematical equation works!

The Chinese also strike concessions in the agreements that allows them to bring in tools of trade instead of supporting the local businesses, this means that everything done during the project only benefits their home country and not Kenya and we still have to pay. Sometimes they will be allowed to operate the roads for years to recover the costs meaning that, they can actually charge any amounts to recoup the cost of the project. This is real for Thika Highway where soon, users will begin to pay toll-fees to use the road.

You would imagine that such contracts could be given to local companies or strike some sort of partnerships so that local businesses can benefit and also build the economy since they will not be repatriating all the money that is not how a bureaucrat used to big money thinks. For him, the oiling that happens before the deal is signed is what matters but not who will eventually pay the ultimate cost.

I have also been following the new development in the oil & gas industry since it was announced that prospects of various minerals did exist within our boundaries. I have seen all sorts of multinationals setting camp here, they pay the expensive licenses to explore oil and in the agreements made with the government; that’s where the devil is, in the details where the country and even the local communities do not get to benefit from the returns brought about by the mining until several years down the line since the companies collude to inflate the cost of exploration with government officials and that guarantees them enough profits before they can share proceeds at an equitable formula.

Many young people are employed in the media industry in Kenya and that trend is going to grow as local content increase on television, one saddening occurrence in the recent times is the decision by government to license a Chinese firm as a content distributor locking out the local stations who have to share their content to the Chinese and still pay for its distribution. This implies that, our local stations cannot grow their productions and employ many young people either in the creative departments and the likes since it will not be sustainable in the long run. But the government is hell-bent to use the digital migration requirement to force the local media stations to give their content to the Chinese firm with questionable local ownership arrangements in the quest to control media in the country without knowing that they are actually auctioning the future of young people in the country.

It is indeed sad to see how government and especially her officials are firm in selling our country`s future to big businesses without caring about the youth of this country.