By Titus Mbithi
It has come to my sad realization that as a country, we have failed to think. We have failed to analyse what we face as a country. I say this because I have gone through the employment bill that has been sponsored by the TNA Nominated MP Sakaja Johnson and my heart is broken.
I don’t not want to get into the legal aspect of the bill. I believe I will lose the intended target audience. However, as a struggling entrepreneur I would like to just analyse it like the ordinary member of the society.
First, I give the Honourable Member an A for effort. Putting such a bill together isn’t easy and he deserves a kudos on the back. At least we are facing the right direction of thought and that is, tackling unemployment in the country. Question is, shall we move forward or backward? And for that I give the Nominated MP a D for the thought process.
Every youth deserves a shot at employment, whether by the government or the private sector. Over the years, we have ignored the key areas that lead to growth of job opportunities. What the sponsor of the bill forgets is that the government does not have enough slots for employment.
That it has limited job creation capabilities. That in fact under the so called new constitution it should shrink to fit within the constitution. Pushing the government to employ the youth just because they are youth is height of stupidity.
The bill is wrong. Simple and clear. The bill should go back to the drawing board to incorporate the views of those of us who have had the chance to read, analyse and reach out to the MP for solutions. The bill is a recipe for disaster. It encourages laziness because it makes one believe that as youth, one is entitled to a job. My question is, where are these jobs that Sakaja is trying to force the government to give youths?
The bill should instead focus on entrepreneurship. It should focus on amalgamating all the funds from youth fund to Uwezo fund to ensure that we fund entrepreneurs who will create the needed jobs. Currently job creators in Kenya are SMES, accounting for 82% of the jobs created every year. The bill should focus on creating an enabling environment that makes it easier for entrepreneurs to gain access to credit. We don’t want tenders. We don’t want favours. We want an environment that makes competition fair and square.
The bill should compel KRA to create incentives for entrepreneurs who have start-ups and are creating jobs to enable them stabilise. The bill should look at reviewing the existing legislation on entrepreneurship and SMES to compel players in the financial eco-system to support SMES with mentorship and credit access. The bill should focus on groups like Nailab and iHub to support what they are doing to enable them scale.
The bill should focus on how the light industries of Kariobangi can be looped into the mainstream process of the macro economic aspect to give them the needed boost for growth. These light industries are the answer to all our job questions in this country. Focus should be on them. The bill should focus on the devolution aspect of job creation to empower entrepreneurs who desire to scale but can’t. It should focus on easing the means of doing business. It should focus on the processes of setting up a business from 33 days to under a day. It should focus on ensuring that the tendering system focuses on SMES, however big the tender is.
The bill should go back to the basics. It should involve all the players in the job creation eco-system. It’s akin to putting the cart before the horse when we demand the youth to be employed yet the jobs aren’t there and the age cap is a nonsense issue. The bill needs to exploit the weaknesses in our manufacturing and light industries to see how we can change from an import country to an export country.
The youth need to be pushed to be a solution provider. Giving us everything on a spoon just because we are youths is stupidity that makes the bill a non-starter. Sakaja, if you really care for the Kenyan youth, then listen to what I have listed above. You will get all the accolades you deserve but your legacy will gather dust in the chambers of parliament. We need to focus on mechanising agriculture and creating new manufacturing zones if we want to talk about jobs.
The bill should address the issue of where the jobs are first before demanding anyone to employ the youth.