credit: AJ

In Kenya, a new threat is making itself slowly manifest: youth unemployment.

In a country already suffering many ills, including the burden of accepting and managing hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring Somalia, and the all pervasive corruption that is the hallmark of many African countries' government, a new dangerous woe promises to be the greatest threat of all.  In Nairobi, unemployed youths and men pour into the streets from the suburbs and exhurbs in search for daily work, without much success.  

Most of them are ready for work, some even dressed primly in their sunday best.   But most of them will have to return to their home empty handed as they do most days. 

They are not unskilled: some of them carry with them important certification and papers of qualification.  

Usually, the place of gathering is in front of some place of business or other, where someone has heard they are hiring.  But the hundreds if not thousands, waiting for a job, are usually turned away when a company person steps out to tell that only a handful of people will be needed with certain specific skills. 

Many of the wandering youths have university degrees. Even someone who has an electrical engineering degree will not be able to find employment. 

One of the problems with Kenya is a sudden surge in young population, a baby boom of sorts.  85% of the population in Kenya is under 35.  Almost 70% of the young age group is unemployed, nearly 10 million people.  Many of them are very well educated, with phd's and master degrees. 

If these young men and women will not find work, what will they do?  This is a very serious question to ponder, in a country that is reeling from violence and corruption.  Politically, it could also be a source of deep unrest, when the young population realizes there is no opportunity and no future for them. 

That is when young people turn to crime.  Without enough money even for food, criminal activities are their only means of survival.  And crime in Kenya is dealt with swiftly and in a deadly manner. 

The unemployed are looking to the government to provide them with opportunities.  Although some funds and initiatives have been undertaken by the government, they are too few to accommodate the large number who seek work.

Another problem is nepotism, the brother of corruption.  People in Kenya are weary of initiatives. They believe in their hearts that they have been put together only to offer opportunities to those who are well connected.   Kenya, in fact, is considered the fourth most corrupt country in the entire world.  

What that corruption will reap, in time, is a frightful prospect. 

Source : AJazeera/  11.21.13



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