African leaders have a duty to empower the youth, President Kenyatta says

President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged African leaders to prioritise creation of a conducive environment that will unlock the potential of the continent’s youth to enable them contribute effectively to development.

President Kenyatta said leaders should aim to equip the youth with the right educational tools to compete against their peers from across the globe and create a domestic environment for free enterprise to thrive that will lead to job creation. 

“We must ingrain in our youth a sense of African pride so that they completely transform our approach as to how we exploit the vast wealth and riches of our African earth,” President Kenyatta said.

The President spoke today at the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi where he addressed the African Philanthropy Forum whose theme was “accelerating youth employment in Africa”.

President Kenyatta said the current generation of young people has the potential of expanding Africa’s productive workforce, promoting entrepreneurship and becoming genuine instruments of change to reverse the devastation caused by climate change.

He emphasized that time has come for leaders to publicly declare that no young person will be left behind and that their voices matters the most. 

“We can make these voices to be heard through education, empowering them with information, mentorship and skills enhancement,” the President said adding that accelerating investments in solutions for youth employment in Africa will be driven by all stakeholders working together.

“Together, we can build a new wave of positively engaged and well-equipped young African professionals who can help the region realize the potential for collective innovation and social impact,” the President said.

The Head of State pointed out that the African Union’s roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the youth presents opportunities for transforming Africa’s youth buldge into a demographic dividend. 

At the forum attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Public Service, Youth and Gender CS Margaret Kobia, the President said Kenya has made progress in building a strong platform to expand job opportunities for her young people.

He cited the assurance of 100 percent transition to secondary school for all pupils who successfully complete primary school and the access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) where 30% of government procurement opportunities have been set aside for enterprises owned by the youth, women and persons with disability as part of the progress made to empower the youth. 

The President said the government has undertaken major reforms in the education sector including making Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) more relevant and better aligned to the needs of the economy.

“We are building on these reforms to provide 21st-century employability skills and demand-driven training that is relevant to the labour market, and create pathways to work for graduates, including internships and apprenticeships,” he said.

In the area of ICTs, the President said the Ajira Digital Programme is helping technologically savvy Kenyan youth to take full advantage of the extensive technology platforms to create and connect to jobs, obtain accurate, relevant and timely labour market information as well as build a virtual support and mentorship ecosystem.

The Head of State said his administration has put in place robust mechanisms to support the survival, growth and productivity of Micro, Small and Medium Scale enterprises (MSMEs). 

“It is only last week that I launched the “Stawi” programme which will provide financial support to MSMEs that previously had been locked out of the formal banking sector,” he said.

President Kenyatta, who serves as a global leader of the United Nations Generation Unlimited (GenU) programme, said the global initiative aims at ensuring that all young people are actively and productively engaged, and that all those aged 10 to 24 are either in school, in training or in employment.

He expressed optimism that with a diverse philanthropic landscape in Africa that includes trusts, private, corporate and family foundations and public corporate social investment units, accelerating the youth employment in Africa can be achieved.

The founder and chairman of the African Philanthropy Forum (APF) Gbenga Oyebode said the organization believes in strategic and effective giving which aims at empowering the youth so as to create more job opportunities for them.

He said the organisation decided to partner with the Kenyatta Trust in order to consolidate and push its agenda of giving in areas of youth employment, leadership and education.

“The Kenyatta Trust, essentially consolidates and pushes the agenda of what we think is important, which focuses around areas of youth employment, leadership and education,” he said.

The Director of Kenyatta Trust, Ms Ngina Kenyatta said the organization’s goal is to change and transform the lives of the underprivileged communities in Kenya through education, mentorship and economic empowerment.

“The trust’s main agenda it to create a new generation of young individuals with a progressive mind set to feel the needs of the ever-changing generation,” Ms Kenyatta said as she cited an example of a young man by the name Moses Etot from Turkana County, who is taking a course in petroleum engineering under the sponsorship of the trust in one of the top universities in China.

Other speakers who included the Executive Director of African Philanthropy Forum Mosun Layode said the organization which partners with stakeholders in 12 African countries is committed to inclusive and sustainable development of the African continent.