Uhuru: Infrastructure development key to job creation
The Jubilee Government has prioritized infrastructure development to spur growth and job creation in all sectors of Kenya’s economy, President Uhuru Kenyatta told a youth summit Thursday.
He said infrastructure development is key to ensuring access to decent incomes and livelihoods to all Kenyans, especially the youth.
“I have no doubt that the expansion and modernization of our roads, airports, railways has brought jobs, and raised the level at which our economy – and the region’s – can compete,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking in Nairobi during the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) special summit on the fight against youth unemployment through infrastructure development and investment promotion.
He disclosed that the Government has developed a national employment policy, which now awaits Parliament’s approval.
“The core proposal here is a simple test: that all major investments and projects undertaken in the country be subjected to analysis, to determine their potential for creating employment,” he said.
The President said in line with the new Constitution, Kenya enacted a law that established the National Youth Council to bring the youth fully into decision making – a commitment inspired by the Government’s policy of mainstreaming youth issues across all sectors.
To boost young people’s access to capital, President Kenyatta said the Government established several national initiatives, to provide capital to them and nurture their entrepreneurial skills.
He cited the revolving Kshs 6 billion Youth Enterprise Development Fund as one of the initiatives that have already benefited over 20,000 youth enterprises and trained over 200,000 youth entrepreneurs.
“It has also done well in establishing linkages between our young entrepreneurs and older, more established partners in industry sectors,” he said.
The President added that the program has been expanded and is now supported by parallel projects that target the youth, women and persons living with disability, with a combined revolving capital of Kshs 15 billion.
He said as the principal actor in the economy, the Government has also put its influence directly in the service of youth entrepreneurship by reserving 30% of all its procurement opportunities to enterprises owned by youth, women and persons with disability.
“This initiative makes it possible for these targeted groups, which had previously been sidelined in the public procurement process, to directly engage and do business with Government,” he said.
The President said the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has also supported Government’s efforts, saying under its internship program more than 13,000 young people have received training on skills required in the job market.
“It is a pleasure to report that more than 85% of those who complete this program have gone on to secure employment,” the President said.
Among the mega infrastructure projects the Kenya Government has embarked on include the Standard Gauge Railway, the expansion and upgrading of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni emphasized the need for a holistic approach to addressing unemployment, noting that many young people engage in conflicts in the region because of lack of jobs.
He said the region must fully exploit its resources in order to unlock economic potential and boost employment creation.
Other speakers included UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, ICGLR Executive Secretary Prof. Ntumba Luaba, and Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohamed and her Devolution counterpart Ms Anne Waiguru.