This ‘youth-only’ employment Bill is not the solution

Saturday March 21 2015

The National Youth Employment Authority Bill, currently awaiting presentation to the Kenya parliament is most unfortunate, ill motivated and myopic.

Besides being unconstitutional as it violates the Bill of Rights, it is a casual approach to national matters.

The Bill proposes to restrict employment in government or government-related jobs to those between 18 and 35 years of age.

Let us first acknowledge that we have a problem. We have an unemployment crisis. There are many people aged above 35, who have never been employed despite being qualified.

Is it that Kenya could never or cannot create enough jobs? Corruption since Independence, tribalism, white elephant projects, tribal clashes since 1991, bad politics and confused priorities have brought us to this crisis.

When the National Rainbow Coalition took power in 2002, it promised to create 500,000 jobs a year. It never did.

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NARC, like Kanu before it, was consumed by corruption within but, unlike Kanu, it was clever enough to start a few desired infrastructure projects to hide its shortcomings.

Retired president Mwai Kibaki is today said to have succeeded because of infrastructure development. However, we seem to forget the mess of tribalism, corruption and lack of vision that led to the 2007/2008 electoral violence that almost killed the country.

One hopes that the Jubilee administration will not hide behind infrastructure to show performance. We require the infrastructure but we need a wholesale solution to the problems afflicting the country. Even with economic growth, we need an inclusive approach. This is what decent states have in place. The rest is politics.

This Bill by nominated MP Johnson Sakaja will help us create the right atmosphere for investment. It shows lack of focus.

At the same time, we need to sort out the recruitment mess in both the public and private sector. Even in employment, a lot of poor administration goes on. In some places, women have to agree to sex to survive or get promotion. In others, bosses harass those who don’t advance the whims of the corrupt, nepotistic or tribalistic.

The high rate of unemployment is a major cause of a lot of social breakdown in the country. The solution is in coming up with innovative ways to make our economy expand. This has to be led politically by appropriate policies, not through diversionary Bills.

Martin Muya
Nairobi

Yes, WalAm is seeking arbitration

Further to the article “US energy firm sues Kenya for cancelling licence” (March 7-13), WalAm Energy Inc. would like to clarify the following:

1. WalAm has commenced International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration proceedings against the government of Kenya, which relate to the illegal revocation of a licence granted to WalAm to explore and develop geothermal resources at the Suswa Geothermal Concession in Kenya.

2. In response to the assertions made by the unnamed Ministry of Energy official, WalAm’s position is that:

(i) An environment impact assessment was indeed completed and provided to the ministry as required;

(ii) WalAm had the funds and plans to carry out the requisite drilling activities and the ministry was always kept appraised of WalAm’s significant progress concerning the project and actions by the government which were necessary for the progress of the project.

(iii) There was no requirement in law or in WalAm’s licence “to drill three wells in three years and put up a power generating plant in a span of total five years.” This requirement has been arbitrarily imposed by government officials as a justification for terminating the licence, and totally disregards the practicality of geothermal greenfield development at Suswa prospect and the laws of Kenya. This can be confirmed by a reading of the Geothermal Resources Act (CAP 314A).

We would not like to comment any further on this matter at this point in the ICSID proceedings.

WalAm Energy Inc.
Via email

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