ODM leader Raila Odinga says he is keen to have Kenya grow its own industries as an avenue to grow the economy.
Specifically, the former Prime Minister says he will ensure that majority of products consumed by Kenyans are made locally.
“I have some ideas on how we can have many MADE IN KENYA products in supermarket shelves and shops in a sustained manner that ensures homegrown industrialization.” He said Sunday morning in an open letter to Kenyans.
Raila, who recently vowed to revitalize economies in rural areas, is vowing to build industries by paying attention to skilled laborers like mechanics, tailors, carpenters, hairdressers, and cooks.
According to the former PM, there are no shortcuts to development and as such, he promises to create an environment where young people in Kenya participate in skills competitions and help them turn their passion into a profession.
“Developed nations like Japan, Canada, Germany, Korea have taken their youths to this competition to showcase skills beginning with basics as technicians, tailors, cooks, hairdressers, artisans, craftsmen. They graduated to machinery and manufacturing, then to computing, information processing, and IT.” he said
“Identifying skilled youth need to be done the same way we select athletes and footballers to Olympics and other international competitions.” He added.
In what appears to be a response to Deputy President William Ruto’s bottom-up campaign, the ODM leader says he will establish a permanent central Human Resources Development body dedicated to identifying skilled youths, organizing domestic skills competitions, picking the best performers, organizing training camps, and sending them out to compete with the world.
“The body will keep data bank on the skilled youth, source support, including extending specific incentives to SMEs ran by craftsmen and artisans and ensure that their passions become professions, industries, and jobs for the nation.” He says
Raila says under his leadership, the government will also source incentives for existing industries to extend rewards and scholarships to those with technical skills who want to continue perfecting them.
While acknowledging that the Ministry of Education has made good strides in promoting skills education, he says there is little or no effort to channel the same skills once students leave school. This he says, he will give priority.
And to realize this dream, the ODM leader says he will push to change the societal mindset that takes a dim view of skilled manual workers. He says not everyone should go to the university as technical institutions offer much-needed technical know-how to spur industrial growth.
He reiterates that a system that mixes skills and knowledge is the path to industrialization, jobs, and the future.
“We need to appreciate that the people who design and produce the fine suits and dresses, the handbags, the expensive watches, the elegant shoes, the fine music, the movies, the chairs and all the other things that we love and import are essentially artisans and skilled workers who chose to hone skills.” He said
“It would be great to see Kenyan youths at the Skills Olympics in Shanghai in October next year. Then we shall be on the path to seeing MADE IN KENYA products on our shelves. We can work together towards this goal.” He concluded