Gig economy to ease youth unemployment, CAS Mbaka

Kenya is set to accelerate the setting up of Ajira Digital Programme centres in all wards in the country within the next two years to tap online jobs and address youth unemployment.

According to Ministry of ICT Chief Administrative Secretary Maureen Mbaka this will ensure access to online job opportunities in the wake of mass layoffs and a freeze in employment by companies due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

CAS Mbaka has said the government has embarked on plans to reopen Ajira Centres which have remained closed since March.

At least 140 centres have remained shut in line with Ministry of Health COVID-19 health and safety measures.

Mbaka says the government has hired additional personnel to conduct online training to those registered under the Ajira Digital Programme.

“Currently we are providing virtual training where one can register for free, to have access to information and how to harness the gig economy. We have brought in additional trainers, centre managers and even trained them virtually. This has been enhanced as well as self-learning materials to prepare them for future of work,” Mbaka said during a live interview with KBC Channel1.

The eruption of coronavirus has been credited for bringing a huge percentage of work online and this is expected to expand opportunities for young people.

Under the Ajira Digital Programme, Kenya seeks have one million young people earning from online jobs annually with the setting up of a freelancing hub by 2022.

Official data shows that majority of the 800,000 people who lost their jobs between April and June this year were youth below 24 years.

Some of the jobs which have been identified to require online outsourcing by local and international firms include web, mobile and software development, writing and translation, sales and marketing, data science and analytics, IT networking, and design and creative.

“We have surveys we carry out so that we keep an eye on the ecosystem that has demand and supply sides. In 2019 we carried out our survey and around 600,000 young people were taking advantage of the opportunities online and around two million were aware of the programme,” Mbaka added.

In the course of the pandemic, Mbaka says the number as risen to 5.5 million young people who are now aware of the programme countrywide.


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