President Kenyatta launches program to tackle Kenya’s youth unemployment

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the launch of the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works program in the capital, Nairobi, which is a public-private partnership between the Mastercard Foundation, the private sector and the Kenyan government. COURTESY: PSCU

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday launched the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works program in the capital, Nairobi, which aims to complement efforts by the Kenyan government to address the challenge of youth unemployment in the country.

The Young Africa Works program is a public-private partnership between the Mastercard Foundation, the private sector and the Kenyan government to connect five million young Kenyans to dignified and fulfilling work over the next five years.

The MasterCard Foundation will collaborate with two Kenyan banks, Equity Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), and their respective foundations.

The entities are expected to provide about $1 billion (Ksh100 billion) in capital, business development services and market linkages.

“Over the five-year period, Mastercard Foundation will provide Sh10 billion to KCB Group against their contribution of Sh50 billion and Sh7.2 billion to Equity Group against their contribution of Sh32 billion,” President Kenyatta said.

President Kenyatta said that both banks are expected to create over 2 million jobs through the program over the next five years.

Additionally, the program is expected to strengthen the creation growth, sustainability and productivity of over 200,000 micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.

Stakeholders were also urged to do more to invest in the youth in order for Africa to project hope and prosperity. Kenyatta also reiterated his commitment towards continued direct engagement with the youth through a job summit to be held annually.

In 2017, a report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said that one million young people join the work force in Kenya every year. This meant that the country needed to create one million new jobs annually for the next 10 years to keep up with the rapidly-expanding youth population.

The report further stated that the country’s formal sector was unable to absorb the huge number of job seekers which contributed to high informal sector employment rates in Africa.

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