Sunday, April 2, 2023

Kenya’s Young People are Concerned about Jobs and Demand Tougher Action on Corruption

Kenyan youth are more concerned about the lack of employment opportunities and high levels of corruption than many of the 15 African countries surveyed by the African Youth Survey 2022, published by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, a leading African foundation focusing on empowering Africa’s next generation.

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation today released its Kenya Country Report from its African Youth Survey 2022. Originally launched in 2019, the African Youth Survey is a first-of-its-kind, in-depth exploration of how young people on the fastest-growing continent on earth view themselves and the world around them.

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The 2022 findings cite eight in ten Kenyans between the ages of 18-24 polled (80%) suggesting that they are dissatisfied with job creation efforts, a marked increase from the African average of 69%.

Notably, if given the opportunity, nearly nine-in-ten young Kenyans expressed interest in starting their own business, a finding also higher than the trend line across African countries surveyed. This suggests a uniquely entrepreneurial sentiment shared throughout the third-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest demographic (70 percent of Kenya’s population is below 30 years of age).

Kenya’s young respondents also stand out from the African average polled as it pertains to the 39% suggesting that their government must do more to combat corruption, as opposed to 22% on average – 17-point increased stress on this important issue.

This pronounced call to action voiced by Kenyan youth to their leadership is underscored by the survey’s finding that, by a substantial margin of almost twenty points, young Kenyans are more likely than their counterparts throughout Africa to say that their voice matters in public life.

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85% of respondents suggest that their voice matters to their country’s leaders, as opposed to the 66% who say the same on average in the other countries sampled in the poll.

Conducted across 15 African nations – Angola, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia – by leading global polling firm PSB Insights, comprising more than 4,500 face-to-face interviews, the Ichikowitz Foundation’s African Youth Survey has become an authoritative source for understanding the opinions and ambitions of Africa’s rising generation.

Ivor Ichikowitz, Founder and Chairman of the Ichikowitz Foundation stated that “In the wake of August’s Presidential elections, our study makes clear the fact that Kenya’s next generation is today ready to play a leading role in reinvigorating the potential of the East African juggernaut’s economy. Kenya is a world-renowned and recognized ‘Silicon Savannah’, a tech hub home to more than 200 flourishing start-ups.

“Our data shows that Kenya tops the list for the country with the highest levels of young people, no less than 90%, who want to start their own businesses. This highlights the overwhelming opportunity presented to the country’s new leadership to engage Kenya’s young people; to listen to their wants, hopes and dreams; to spark them into action and to activate the agency of youth across the country”.

Across several additional topical areas, the attitudes of Kenyan youth stand out:

  • Kenya’s youth are 16-points more likely to say that their country is headed in the wrong direction (84%) than the African average (68%). Often such findings are common among more attentive and publicly aware demographics, suggesting that Kenya’s youth are very much in tune with current events.
  • 54% say that equality of all citizens under the law is the key underpinning of democracy, as opposed to 49% of youth across Africa, and 53% of young Kenyans say the same of free and fair elections, in contrast to 42% on average – a notable 11 points higher emphasis on the institution of voting;
  • More strikingly still, half of the Kenyan respondents say that political leaders are negative drivers of change in their country, as opposed to 32% on average – an 18-point distinction, suggesting frustration with the political leadership on the whole;
  • However, when asked if their country is creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, 75% responded in the affirmative, a 9 percent increase in average sentiment from across the continent;
  • Further and across all areas, Kenya’s youth see Africa’s colonial past as more positive than their counterparts in other countries. Moreover, two-thirds view international organizations and NGOs as positive drivers of change in Kenya, as opposed to 29% polled from across Africa;
  • With Kenya serving as one of the top wildlife travel and tourism destinations on the continent, conservation is no doubt a priority in the mindset of Kenya’s young people – 83% of the country’s young people believe that animal poaching will lead to their extinction, 14 percentage points higher than the intercontinental average. Kenya is further the top country whose young people are actively working to reduce their own carbon footprint (85%) and, supporting, participating in or donating to environmental causes (86%).

Ichikowitz added: “I have always admired the Kenyan people for the important role they’ve played in building a digital economy and positioning their country as a hub for entrepreneurs and innovators.  Despite recent economic challenges, the results of the African Youth Survey show that Kenya has a strong platform for the new government to continue to grow the economy and its influence across Africa and the rest of the world. We believe this new generation will make the significant changes needed to reduce poverty and economic inequality, build a strong middle class and establish Kenya as an important player in the global economy.”

“Africa’s youth are ultimately our greatest natural resource and the most promising source of hope going forward,” concluded Ichikowitz. “Their strong support for democracy, human rights, environmental conservation and ecojustice, coupled with the creation of a conducive climate for entrepreneurship to thrive and private businesses to prosper, suggests a brighter future ahead for all of us – indeed as we count on them to realize the dawn of the African Century in the years to come.”

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