Kenya is facing its highest recorded unemployment rate since independence. The majority of these unemployed Kenyans are aged between 18 and 35 at their working prime. A recent report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that Kenya’s unemployment rate stands at a mind-boggling 40% of the working age population.
The bad news does not end there; Trading Economics predicts that the unemployment rate will rise to 44.05% by the end of December 2017. It will rise to 45.35% by the end of June 2018 and drop to 24% by the year 2020.
Kenya’s unemployment rate is the third highest in the world. Kenya is bettered by Djibouti (54%), Congo (46.10%); the other top 5 countries include Bosnia & Herzegovina (39.65%) and Namibia (34%).
The statistics show that Kenya’s unemployment rate has risen from a low of 12.7% in 2004 to 40%, an increase of 27.3%. Namibia’s unemployment rate rose marginally from 28.1% to 34%, an increase of 5.9%.
The other top 5 countries showed reduced unemployment rates; Bosnia & Herzegovina showed a reduction of 0.41%, Congo 4%, Djibouti 5.5%. It is Kenya’s unemployment rate that worries policymakers, instead of decreasing its spiraling out of control.
Kenya’s population is estimated to be about 48 million and will reach 50 million by 2020. This is certainly worrying with Kenyan youth comprising 70% of the population.
The other key economic indicator of labor is living wage; Kenya’s living wage for an individual is estimated at Kshs 29,349 per month while that of a family is Kshs 51,240 per month. This means that a single Kenyan needs to earn at least Kshs 30,000 per month to cover all his monthly basic needs and with a family that amount is doubled.
Recent UN statistics show that a majority of the Kenyan population lives on less than 2 dollars a day. Most of these vulnerable Kenyans are found in slums and rural areas. These areas are largely underdeveloped and have little to no access to basic services like water & sewerage services, healthcare, security, and education facilities.
The youth in the slums and rural areas are guns for hire; mostly used by politicians to cause chaos and havoc during election season.
Kenya’s GDP of US$63.4 billion mainly comes from agriculture at around Ksh 286.3 billion and manufacturing at Kshs 115.6 billion. Other major sources include transport Kshs 71.9 billion, and construction Kshs 57.7 billion.
Kenya’s agricultural sector has faced many setbacks from biting droughts, pest infestation, corruption, poor agricultural practices and lack of government support for small-scale farmers. Other external factors include the banning of miraa or khat by European countries, influx of imported maize and sugar and a high cost of production.
Many Kenyan companies have witnessed record losses which have led to massive layoffs. Examples are Kenyan Airways, Mumias Sugar, Car & General, East African Cables, Express Kenya, and African Portland Cement.
The unemployment conundrum is exacerbated by Kenya’s balance of trade. Kenya exports Kshs 48 billion worth of goods and imports Kshs 129 billion worth of goods and services; this results in a monthly balance of trade of Kshs 80 billion per month. Kenya is exporting jobs the same jobs that the youth of the country need.
Kenya is a person who kills her parents and then claims she is an orphan. The government and the private sector should join hands and invest in the potential of young Kenyans. The government has to create an enabling environment that creates more entrepreneurs and fewer job seekers.
Corruption is the biggest hindrance to entrepreneurship; young Kenyans have little capital to start businesses, bribe government workers, bribe county government workers, bribe the police, bribe journalists, bribe NGO officials, bribe the MCA, bribe the MP, and bribe the Governor just to start a small business venture.
This culture of “if you don’t know someone, bribe that someone” is a business model that stops us from reaching our potential. Imagine these so called leaders and so-called influencers are killing the same jobs that would improve the lives of their constituents and followers.