The National government in collaboration with the Civil Society and the Private Sector has unveiled new projects under the Ajira Digital Programme to build and expand Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure across the country targeting over one million youth.
According to Dr. Kennedy Ogola, the project which is part of the government’s efforts aimed at promoting new and flexible forms of employment such as micro-work and online contracting to create employment and grow the economy is also offering ICT training packages to selected youth across the country.
Last year through the programme 7,168 youth were trained countrywide against the target of 8,000.
Speaking when he officially closed a five day training programme for youth dubbed Ajira Digital Enabled Work Training Session at Kenyatta University’s Nakuru Town Campus, the expert attached to the Ministry of ICT affirmed that the government is building technology innovation hubs across the 290 constituencies in the country equipped with free WiFi and working space for the public as part of measures to expand ICT infrastructure.
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“We are providing youth with education and training on online freelancing and entrepreneurial skills. Concerted efforts are being made to change the perception of on-line work to make it acceptable as a formal employment that provides decent income.
The youth have also trained on digital jobs such as data entry, content writing, transcription, software development, accounting, civil engineering, carpentry, plumbing, masonry and all jobs available in the mainstream job market. Remote working is expected to contribute to 20 percent of global job opportunities in the next four years,” said Dr. Ogola
Ajira Digital Programme is being implemented by the Ministry of ICT in partnership with Ministries of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Education and Foreign Affairs in order to bridge the gap between skills demand and lack of jobs.
The ICT expert called on all Women Representatives and Members of Parliament countrywide to fast- track construction or completion of innovation hubs. Each constituency was allocated Sh 40 million under Constituency Development Fund for Innovation Hubs.
“Once a Member of Parliament has constructed or identified proposed ICT innovation Hub building at Constituency level the County administration ensures that internet is availed after hardware and software is installed.
We have so far 135 hubs established at constituency level. It is projected that in the next five years 25 billion devices will be connected online, while total market size for online work is currently estimated at Sh 5 trillion,” he explained
Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for ICT, Education and E-government Raymond Komen noted that the national government’s big four agenda aimed at leapfrogging Kenya’s economy in the midterm through provision of jobs is anchored on information and technology as the biggest enabler for employment creation.
He said the County administration was working with the ICT Ministry to ensure that all people whether in rural or urban settings have equal contact with online works.
“Consider Face book, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Apple as companies sitting at the top as the world’s economic giants, leading employers and generating unprecedented revenue,” explained Mr. Komen
Nakuru was the first county in the country selected to pilot the Ajira Digital Programme in 2016. Governor Lee Kinyanjui affirmed that his administration is committed to roll out Ajira innovation hubs in all the youth polytechnics within the devolved unit.
The Governor stated that five new innovation hubs will be set up through the Ajira Digital Programme.
“As a way of increasing uptake of ICT as a means of self-employment two of the hubs will be based at Bondeni and Njoro polytechnics in Nakuru Town West and Njoro Sub Counties respectively. The future of work and Kenya’s economy lies in ICT,” he added.
“New hubs will be set up closer to villages. We have realized that our rural population lack access to online work platforms. With about 1 million people entering the job market yearly in Kenya, the need for gainful employment cannot be overemphasized” observed the governor.
Mr. Komen said the devolved unit was partnering with the ICT Ministry in ensuring more innovation hubs within Nakuru East, Naivasha and Molo Sub-counties were operational.
“The ICT Ministry in collaboration with the County government of Nakuru has ensured that two innovation hubs at Kuresoi South and Subukia Sub Counties are working. It is our intention to ensure that our youth are part of the information and technology edge drives the modern world’s economy,” said the CEC
“The innovation hubs are fashioned to provide them with the necessary tools, training and mentorship to enable them to work and earn a decent income,’’ stated the CEC Member for ICT, Education and E-government.
We are working with the ICT department and all stakeholders to transform Kenya into a hub of freelancers by 2022 through the development of a strategy to increase the uptake of digital work model of employment by both the private sector and government” said Mr Komen.
He affirmed that his department committed to ensuring fiber connectivity in all the 11 Sub Counties with at least one innovation hub in every constituency.
The administration, he said, is committed to bringing on board 5,000 youth to Ajira Digital programme by the end of the year.
“My department is in constant communication with the ICT Ministry, office of the County Commissioner, the governor and Members of Parliament from the County in a plan to have youth live better lives through online work,” said the CEC
He said there were more than 50,000 job opportunities in Nakuru on the online platform and encouraged unemployed graduates to apply.
“At the Kuresoi South and Subukia innovation hubs we can testify how youth have been trained in soft skills such as how to respond to clients, how to reply emails, professional etiquette among others,” he explained.
This is a timely opportunity for unemployed youths in the County to use their ICT skills to create job opportunities and shun crime. A large number of youths in the established and forthcoming innovation hubs will have a place to work and earn a living.
“These resource centers will not only help those working there but the community around the facilities will have free internet,” said Mr Komen