Youth empowerment is key to future development of Kenya

Young people are key agents of change because of their “link” to our future. However, in most African countries, a majority of young people are trapped in poverty, with few opportunities to learn or to earn a decent living.

In Kenya, about 65 percent of the total population are young people below the age of 30 years making them the majority in this country. With the boisterous presence of youth, one would expect the country to develop at a faster rate, but this is not happening.

According to the Kenyan Ministry of youths, 85 percent of young people below the age of 30 years are unemployed. Furthermore, on average 38.5 percent of the Kenyan adult population is illiterate. The economic growth in Kenya stands at 5.9 percent and is growing at a snail pace.

If all these young people are allowed to realize their full potential, Kenya could see enormous economic gains.  According to some economists, Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s greatest success stories from its growing youthful population. Addressing challenges of poverty, inequality, poor governance, low investment and poor productivity to achieve rapid, sustained growth rates that will transform lives of young people would put Kenya on top of the world.

The more we have youths transitioning into well-educated adults with fewer dependants and new opportunities to acquire wealth, savings and purchasing power, the more they will be able to accelerate economic growth and develop our country

Kenya must increase investment in young people by promoting quality education that prepares them for future opportunities, empowering women and girls, and ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and human rights needs are met.

Kenya government and leaders must also increase employment opportunities for young people and actively involve them in the decision-making process on issues that will affect them.

Michael Okun Oliech is a communication officer at dance4life Kenya, a youth serving Non-Governmental Organization that does sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy and behavior change communication. He has a BA in Development Studies, undergone training on media advocacy, and budget advocacy by Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa- Kenya and Choice for Youth and Sexuality of the Netherlands. He is also a well-known blogger on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Issues, a human rights activist, LGBT rights defender and youth advocate at Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa. His twitter handle is @mikeokunson.

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