Friday, August 26, 2016

Sorry: No More Jobs for You

There is hell lot of people on the tarmac, university, college, currently looking for a job. If you are one of them, you may need to rethink of your strategy. The economy is not creating enough jobs annually. There are high chances you may be looking for a job for the next five years and more. It is now ten times more difficult to find a job in Kenya than it was 10 years ago.
I have seen a lot of policy makers and politicians talk on doing something about the employment situation as a top policy priority. In fact the Jubilee Government came into office with the promise to create more opportunities for the youth and the country at large. But there is very little that has practically been done about the situation. There’s a pervasive sense across government that nothing more can or should be done, that we should just wait for the economy to grow to trickle down to workers.
The truth of the matter is, when the economy is on the growth trajectory, very few jobs are created. The economy has to stabilize for the opportunities to begin to trickle down to the citizens.
With the projections for economic growth by Government, it will take years before unemployment declines to normal levels. And all indications and activities around the various national scale infrastructure projects show that those projects will need to be completed for actual jobs to trickle down to the citizens.
According to the Kenya Beureau of Statistics, Unemployment Rate in Kenya increased to 40% in 2011 from 12.70% in 2006. In Kenya, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force.
80% of the unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years old. the challenge of youth unemployment is compounded by the fact that 90% of all employed people lack vocational skills. Approximately 800,000 young Kenyans enter the labour market every year. The current youth unemployment rate stands at 35%.
GDP Annual Growth Rate in Kenya is expected to be 5.70% according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts’ expectations. The estimates show the GDP Annual Growth Rate in Kenya to stand at 6.41 in 12 months’ time. The inflationary effects and the continued infrastructure development as well as low tax returns, things don’t look as rosy as projected.
The damage from sustained high unemployment will last much longer. The longer our graduates remain unemployed, they tend to lose their skills, and even when the economy finally stabilises in growth, there will still be difficulties in finding a job, because they’re regarded as poor risks by potential employers.
On the other hand, students who graduate into a poor labor market start their careers at a huge disadvantage and pay a price in lower earnings for their whole working lives. Failure to act on unemployment isn’t just cruel, it’s short-sighted.
Then there is the group of Kenyans who after graduating and searching for jobs with little success, take up any offer irrespective of their area of specialization. These type of people end up frustration leading to poor productivity at the job place.
Can the Kenyan Government consider creating an emergency jobs program?
I remember in the 2009 Obama stimulus bill focused on restoring economic growth. It was, in effect, based on the belief that if you build G.D.P., the jobs will come. But if that could be the same route, the current infrastructure development needs to be humongous enough such that at the completion, it could absorb millions of the unemployed.
During the campaigns the Jubilee Administration promised to create tax incentives to companies that take up young people to offer job training, internships and mentorship opportunities. This policy has never been implemented. It also promised to collapse the existing Funds targeting the youth and the Kenya Industrial Estates into one agency. The proposals seems to have hit a snag.
We urgently need a somewhat cheaper program that generates more jobs for the unemployed population. Such a program should at best lead directly to job creation. An intensive programme that helps or incubates innovators to start ideas that when implemented will generate more jobs for millions at scale.
With the Counties now at the centre of development, a lot more could be done that is not being done. We need to see the counties announcing measures to create more opportunities for their people at local level thus achieving economic growth at local level.
Every time Government thinks of creating jobs for the youth, they always run towards low paying, hard labour kinds of National Youth Service initiatives and the long gone Kazi Kwa Vijana Initiative that ended up enriching the old guards. It’s time a programme that would offer relatively low-paying (but much better than nothing) public-service employment.
Direct public employment can create a lot of jobs at relatively low cost. The Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank in the United States, argued that spending $40 billion a year for three years on public-service employment would create a million jobs.
If businesses were offered structured direct incentives for employment, there would be more jobs being created. Employers should be encouraged to add workers as the economy expands. Companies should be encouraged to design sustainable growth plans that takes more employees over time thus expanding into new horizons. A tax credit for employers who increase their payrolls is a worthy policy that will lead to the creation of jobs.
The expense that may come with providing tax subsidies to companies and organizations, far more outweighs the value of having more citizens productively engaged. There is currently a much higher cost of inaction in the face of a social and economic crisis the country may plunge herself in.
While the Government needs to get serious on creating an enabling environment for private institutions to create more jobs, the young people also need to begin to use their school acquired knowledge to innovate and resolve our current social problems. Of course that requires investments and revenue in research and innovative ideas. It is that creativity that has lacked in our country. Majority of university graduates today are more of job seekers. Is it because our education is more of a theory and not a practice oriented. Something has to be done about that too.
We can no longer maintain status quo, it will come at a high price. Things not need remain as they are. I believe we can create more jobs — and yes, we MUST.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What Exactly am I doing with my Sight?

By Biko Zulu
When I wrote the story about Loice (with a "c") a pal called Emmanuel Dennis Whatsapped me and said "Hey, Did you know that Palo who fixes my Mercedes [yawa!] is actually visually impaired?" I said how now? He had tons to say about this guy's talent on German vehicles. So I came to see Palo, who is actually called Charanpal Sigh. His dad is half-Singh, half-Kikuyu. Mom is half-Singh, half-Meru.
" I dont even know what I 
am," he laughs.
Palo worked at DT Dobie for 5 years before opening his own garage. When he turned 27, one day he started seeing double, with killer headaches. Menengitis struck and took away his eyesight and hearing from one ear. He could have drowned himself in river of pity, but instead, the little shred that he hanged from was his passion for German machinery.
What else could he do? All he knew and loved were engines; how they sounded, how they smelled, the finese with which they were built, the pride they came with. Palo is the kind of guy who likes to go to bed with the faint smell of oil still on his hands.
"Without sight, work is slower because I have to use one ear to listen to the engine, and I have to feel around for parts." Yup, he knows The temparement of a crankshaft by its feel.
He knows the older models of Mercedes like the back of his hand. He can tell them apart by sound. "The true test of fixing cars is fixing the older cars that were built before cars became computerised."
I asked him what his edge is over the sighted mechanics. "Passion and honesty." He said, " I handle one car at a time, I never take two jobs at any time because this is not about money, it's about curiosity. I'm curious about what ails German machinery." Palo, the Mercedes Whisperer.
When you leave Palo you can't help asking yourself one question; "What exactly am I doing with my sight?"

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Leadership Crisis--It must be Fixed

The world today is full of human generated crisis. One of the biggest crisis is that of leadership. The reason why elections were invented is so that the elected leaders can be in a position to lead in complex situation and find common paths for which progress should define the future of generations. The recent happenings show a world in flux where humans are unable to agree on matters of common sense. Times like these test elected and potential leaders from Members of parliament, local assemblies all the way to presidents.

During times of crisis and complexities, leadership requires resolve, compassion, and a deep commitment to a values system. Immediately a country abandons its value system, there is bound to be crisis led by leaders who are not defined by a common purpose for better management of challenges that face the course of humanity.

The recent happenings in the United Kingdom has showed us a taste of how global leaders act in the face of a crisis. At some point they abandon reason and common sense and return matters as sensitive as the exit from the European Union using superficial campaigns and outright lies. Immediately leaders use lies instead of facts to hoodwink a vote that favours their side, which is the beginning of the lack of democracy there in their system.

The world is in dire need of true leaders who are defined by a value system. That take care of the interests of their people beyond self. But it starts with citizens electing people who show the qualities of honesty and commitment.

The world needs and seeks people who can leading in principled ways that challenge paradigms that need to be challenged and who have the potential to inspire others to do the same. These paradigms are not the common sense that can be left to the masses. It requires wisdom, a thought process that looks into the future. How the decisions made today will positively impact onto our common future.

The world needs women and men who demonstrate the kind of leadership demanded by the challenges of the 21st century. Leaders who are innovative in addressing the challenges of today. Leaders who are imaginative and can navigate through complex situations and provide insights on how to resolve them. Leaders who are flexible enough to listen to the alternative voices of those who oppose them and readjust to ensure the best outcome for the common good. Leaders who are systems-based and can translate visions into actions and embed them into doable actions. Leaders who are risk-takers and are not afraid of trying new ideas. Finally Leaders who are ethical. It is only through ethics that shall we enrich the generations to come. Ethics passed on to the next generation.

Will you be that leader? It starts with you and me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


The Youth Enterprise Development Fund was created with the mission to fostering and promotion of entrepreneurship, typically in the form of micro, small and medium businesses/enterprises. This mission if fully implemented would see the improvement of the livelihoods of youth across Kenya and unyoke them from systemic poverty.
Since 2006 when the fund was established, there has been drama and intrigues at the fund with a lot of political interference in its management. The fund has unfortunately been converted away from its mandate and a few individuals have been enriching themselves. This has to stop.
A few people who have been entrusted with the noble responsibility to steer the fund to greatness have failed and taken to act on behalf of their self-serving interests. The recent blatant theft of 180 Million is an example of the bad publicity that Kenya is receiving today. I the current scandal, a construction company was awarded a tender to provide IT services. The tender was awarded irregularly against the procurement laws.

With the exit of the Chairman paving way for investigations into the irregular award the 180 Million, it is the call by young people of Kenya that the rest of the Board members will follow suit to step aside so that a team that is qualified and passionate about uplifting Kenyan youth can be put in place to do what is right on behalf of the many millions of youth who need the fund's support.

This petition is at mobilizing the support of all young people to get the youth fund back on a track of developing young people's enterprises that need a financial boost for their enterprises.
This petition therefore demands as follows:
1.    THAT a team of professionals be appointed to carry out an audit of the successes and failures of the fund and an institutional strengthening plan be put in place;
2.    THAT the Youth Fund be properly constituted through an Act of Parliament and a sustainable policy framework set up for its operations;  
3.    THAT a seat on the Youth Fund Board be set aside for a nominee elected by the youth or in such a consultative manner by the youth sector stakeholders through a popular process;
4.    THAT the board must be accountable to the youth through quarterly reports released for the consumption of the public;
5.    THAT a review of the fund’s strategic plan be instituted to ensure its priorities are aligned to the economic emancipation of the youth of Kenya and a rapid plan to restore the credibility of the fund implemented;
6.    THAT all senior staff and Board Members undergo a lifestyle audit for accountability and transparency in their service;
7.    THAT an oversight authority be established to oversee the studious implementation process of the board.
8.      THAT a judicial process to ensue immediately to prosecute officials implicated in the loss of funds from the Youth Fund in the current allegations.

9.      THAT the youth organizations in Kenya to participate in promoting the uptake of the fund by the youth and in holding the fund managers accountable.

See also

How Mukuria Ngamau got Sh180 million from the Youth Fund

Former Youth Fund boss admits to making questionable payments following loss of taxpayers millions

Re-engineer the Youth Fund

Dear Friend --
When The Youth Enterprise Fund was established, many young people were very excited that for once their enterprises would thrive with the little support from Government. A number of enterprises have received the support but I believe the full potential of the fund has not been explored yet.

Then came the wrangles and now scandals rocking the fund. The aim for which the fund was created for has been lost. And that is where you come in.

This country needs a fully functioning Youth Fund that serves to lift the millions of youth out of poverty. This in turn will see thriving communities. The failure of the fund will not only affect the youth today, but the next generations to come. We have created the petition to re-engineer the fund so that it can serve its rightful purpose and that its managers are held accountable for the work they are hired to do.

Click on the link below and sign the petition today to help the Youth Fund overhauling. Call out other network members and young people to sign this petition that we believe will help us push the agenda forward. It will take only a few seconds of your time:

Public opinion is a powerful tool to make our leaders know what we feel about what is happening and this action will shift in the right direction. A majority of Young people in Kenya support a transparent and accountable Youth Fund, we can keep the pressure on Government in a constructive manner to act -- but this action depends on your support. We can't give up on the young people of Kenya.

If you support a re-engineering of the youth Fund, sign this petition today 



Monday, February 29, 2016

Why Empty Election Pledges No Longer Thrive in the present day Political Kenya

On saturday 27th February, I took the day to travel to Kericho County and give moral support on behalf of The Fire Place to my friend Aaron Cheruiyot who is running for the Kericho County Senatorial seat that was left vacant after the appointment of Charles Keter into Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Energy.
This particular political duel has been characterized by intrigues and close to protest to the system yet it would have been easy to recapture the seat knowing that Rift Valley voted to a man for the Jubilee administration by the mere fact that one of their own, Hon. William Ruto is the deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. However the internal politics of the expansive rift valley have proved to haunt the same system that they voted for overwhelmingly. 
Seven rallies were covered in a meticulous manner. Others joining were the Deputy President and over 20 MP's including former legislators from different parts of the country. Others included the Governor for Kericho and Nandi and Senators from other counties in the Rift Valley. This is the kind of support one would assume is needed in politics to propel one to a mere political celebrity on the part of the 30 year old Aaron Cheruiyot. However something interesting has happened that has forced the Deputy President to ensure he does everything politically possible to convince the Kericho electorate to vote for the Jubilee Candidate.
The DP Arrives at a Rally in Gatarwet with Contender Aaron Cheruiyot on Saturday
The seven rallies were held in the following locations in the expansive county on Saturday 27th Feb:-
1. Lelach
2. Siongi
3. Gatarwet
4. Sosiot
5. Kiptome
6. Sigawet and
7. Soko Huru
During this campaign I learned a few lessons that I share in this article. It was an eye opener on what it takes to do political mobilization. The process is not easy. One has to work hard to crack the numbers. Once you declare, you become instant and constant property of the public and your private life becomes a public book. This has been the experience for my young friend Aaron. 
Aaron Cheruiyot making his case at the Rally

I also learned that the people are not stupid. When they elect you once, they expect you to deliver on the promises you make. Never allow outsiders to join you and give unfounded promises just to lure voters to your side.
Never say things blindly without thinking of the consequences of your speeches. The people have a long memory. When they realize you have been playing them, on your next bid, they can hold you hostage or even dump you however positive intentions you may have for them.
Times have changed when the electorate were naive and clueless, with education, free media, new media and all the technological advances, your plan, promises and if you use lies, will spread fast, and will be documented for future reference to hold you accountable.
I learnt that in politics it is a factor of the now and not then. Politicians can promise all they want but today's voter does not forget. The terrain is changing so fast and that naive electorate we knew is gone.
Any one running for office in future will need money, honesty and hard work to retain the seat.
That is what the people of Kericho are doing. They reminded the Deputy President that they haven't seen actions out of words that were promised in 2012. The DP has had to camp in the county, at some point to even apologize to the voters for delayed gratification based on campaign promises.
Some of the guests including Emmanuel Dennis and Charles Keter

If Aaron loses the Kericho seat, it will not be because he is a bad choice, in fact he is the best choice for the people of Kericho, but it will be a protest to the government for not delivering on its promises. If the people of Kericho choose Aaron for their next senator, they will not only have given the youth of Kenya a vote of confidence, it will also be a verdict that the youth can be trusted but also being tested on their maturity to lead. That maturity must come with accountability. Accountability not only on paper but in transforming our communities to reflect the development of the 21st century.
The choice is out there for the people of Kericho County.
Which brings me to my next point on the stupidity that comes with political choices. Should the people choose the wrong candidate just to protest the system or should the people make their choices based on the fact of the ability of the candidate? Why should the best candidate lose just because of protest to the system. What are the consequences of choosing a protest candidate at the expense of political protest? I will pen more upon the conclusion of the plebiscite in Kericho on Monday next week.
Photos Courtesy of Brian Emmanuel Inganga

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When the Thief Whistle Blows Own Theft

A story is told of a young lady who was fond of stealing food from her mothers pot. To cover up for her theft she went to report to her mother that food was missing from the pot. Little did her mother know that the daughter was actually the one stealing the food. The mother would go ahead to ask the entire family who was behind the theft of the food. One day the daughter asked her little sister to help her in the scheme of stealing. Lttle did she know that the little sister would tell her to her mother as soon as the whole theft grew to a disaster. 

The story of Anne Waiguru and the missing NYS Millions in the wake of the revelation through an affidavit that places the former Cabinet Secretary right at the architectural design of the NYS Scandal. The story of Josephine Kabura is similar to the stories we heard during the Moi regime when instructions were given from ‘above’ for individuals to acquire and sign for huge financial transactions. If one would not tore the political disciplined line, they were surprised at the amounts of debts they had accumulated and had no one but themselves to blame for signing the documents.

Josephine Kabura in her affidavit, claims that she was the conduit under which Anne Waiguru masterminded the theft of the Sh791 Million from the National Youth Service. This is a story of a long term friendship that started way when Anne Waiguru was working at KDN. The mentioned of big names in the scheme and the meetings that were convened by Anne waiguru leaves little doubt that they actually happened. The most surprising factor in the whole Anne Waiguru issue is that she resigned citing health problems.

It is claimed in the affidavit that a lot of money changed hands in payment for the various individuals that were co-conspirators in the theft and when there were signs that the scandal would not pass the scrutiny of accountability that Anne Waiguru became a whistle blower in her own masterminded theft.

It is told that the NYS Director and PS in the Ministry of Devolution had to be sacrificed in order to make Anne Waiguru look clean and committed to fighting the graft in her Ministry.
In the hills of a political career of Anne Waiguru to become the next Nairobi governor, will she succeed or will this scandal be the beginning of the end of an illustrious career that Anne Waiguru claims to have had in public service?

Only time will tell.

See also