KENYA: Church Urges State to Invest in Local Manufacturing, Curb Unemployment

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, NOVEMBER 24, 2020 (CISA)-Following deliberations during the, “Youth Employment Conference 2020” the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has called on the government to invest in local manufacturing industries to curb the current unemployment crisis in the country.

“Even though the president has manufacturing as one of his Big Four Agenda, we are not yet there yet because we are still importing a lot of things that we as a country can produce,” said Fr Jeremiah Mutuku a member of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) Extractives Sector Technical Team.

According to Fr Mutuku, the country has the capacity to mine its minerals and create opportunities for youths, but that has been ignored.  He blames continuous importation of goods and services for the collapse of local industries.

“We as a country  need to think about the resources we have and how we can use them to sustain our economy,” he said, further encouraging young people to change from the mind-set of getting white-collar jobs after education.

“The culture in Kenya and the education system has been channeling the young people towards white-collar jobs. That has proved not to be sustainable and so we are trying to see whether we can help create opportunities for youth to think beyond jobs and help to create their own employment,” Fr Mutuku added.

“As a commission in the Catholic Church we are very much worried by the high rate of youth unemployment that has been made worse by the covid-19 situation in the country,” said Gladys Mong’are CJPC’s Parliamentary Liaison officer.

As the country goes through the referendum debate, and moving into the 2022 General Elections, she notes that the current status of high unemployment especially among the youth is a dangerous gamble for the country as the youth are likely to be used by politicians to drive their individual agenda.

“We are looking at the vulnerabilities of the youth. As a commission we sat down and thought that something has to be done. Youth unemployment has been a growing concern and is now developing into a crisis,” she said.

In a bid to formulate a long-term solution to the impending crisis, CJPC and Trócaire partnered to come up with an advocacy program to empower youth on tapping opportunities around them.

The Youth Employment Conference 2020 was held in Nairobi on November 19 -20 convened by the Youth Agenda, a consortium of young people.  The conference brought together the Government, the Church and Civil Society Organisations and interested Non-Governmental organisations to discuss youth unemployment.

CJPC coordinators; Moses Mpuria of Malindi diocese, Ambei Milimu of Kakamega and Simon Mungai of Nairobi Archdiocese were among panelists at the two-day conference.