LESSONS FROM YOUTH SUMMIT
In Kenyan history, there is no better time to be a youth than now. The government has provided numerous opportunities to empower youth and those responsible must take this seriously
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the State House Youth Summit hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was not only eye-opening but it also underscored the role of young people in the development of the country. The Summit took stock of the initiatives the government has put in place so far to ensure young people are not only kept occupied, but also earn a decent living.
Of great importance was the evaluation of the 30 per cent tender directive for youth, women and people living with disability under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities programme.
Though a good number of youth have taken advantage of this programme, the Summit identified a number of challenges the initiative still faces.
Key among these was some government institutions are yet to give tenders to young people as directed by the President. There are others that are reported to take long before making payments.
As President Uhuru said, any officer who fails to give these tenders, or fails to pay those awarded does not deserve to be in office. His directive that payments should be made immediately is more than welcome. My take is all AIE holders must be given 60 days to complete all youth tenders’ payments.There is need for the government bureaucracy to be more responsive in paying valid invoices without delay.
I would also propose an annual “Youth Empowerment Index” for all ministries and county governments which will evaluate how effectively they have performed in paying the youth enterprises promptly.
In Kenyan history, there has not been a better time to be a youth than now. The government has provided numerous opportunities to empower them and all those responsible must take this very seriously.
This is because, as I have opined on this column before, an idle and desperate youthful population is the greatest danger to any country. Young people are vulnerable to crime and other illegal activities such as political violence.
As part of the process to improve issues related to young people, Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs CS Sicily Kariuki has said the government is in the process of reviewing the National Youth Policy, which is somewhat out of date.
This process must involve getting views from the young people to ensure we have the youth driving their agenda. The revised policy must focus on employment as an opportunity to turn the youth into economic contributors in the country. It must also ensure fewer youths are involved in crime, drug and alcohol abuse for a productive generation.
But it is not all gloom when it comes to youth empowerment as we learnt during the Summit which emphasised a proactive approach from all stakeholders.
We learnt that the Youth Enterprise Development Fund has already disbursed Sh11.7 billion and more than 25,000 youths have been absorbed into the SGR project.
More that Sh40 billion worth of tenders has also been accessed by youth, women and persons with disability under the Agpo programme. Some 31,000 tenders worth Sh40 billion have been awarded under the Agpo programme and the Uwezo Fund has disbursed Sh1.8 billion to 20,000 youth groups.
We also learnt that the new Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project put together by the government will train 280,000 young people.
The Summit was told that over 165,000 youths were already empowered through partnerships with development partners and private sectors.We know that the youth population which is yet to benefit from this empowerment programme is still large. We therefore need to pick up the challenge thrown to young people by various panelists at the summit. They must become proactive by realising that opportunities won’t just fall in their laps. They have to make the initiative of getting to know where these opportunities lie and take advantage of them.
WE LEARNT THAT THE YOUTH ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT FUND HAS ALREADY DISBURSED SH11.7 BILLION AND MORE THAN 25,000 YOUTHS HAVE BEEN ABSORBED INTO THE SGR PROJECT