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The Vice Chancellor,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am sincerely honored to address you all, and particularly the youth on this
esteemed occasion. Today, I will speak about youth empowerment and governance.
Allow me to take us on a journey of how youth empowerment can transform the
Kenyan society. I shall embark from a philosophical point of view on empowerment.
In the 1970s, the much-famed philosopher, Walter Rodney authored a famous
book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, in which he argued that individuals,
structures, systems and nations that had power, used their power to perpetuate a
state of underdevelopment over those without power. What was happening amongst
States was also mirrored at the micro/individual level in the power relations between
the youth and the older generation. This resembles the notion of the first mover
advantage that we see in business, playing out in political power and how it
translates into social and economic power.
The plight of the Kenyan youth for a long time has been to struggle in an effort to
finding recognition in the social, political and economic spaces. These spaces already
have owners, owners from previous generations. The breaking away from these
power shackles is embodied in the concept of empowerment.

The second theory, I shall refer to was one advanced, from the 1990s, as the
alternative development model began to take root, in which the concept of
empowerment became an important framing lens to describe various states of
individual, group, institutional and community change.
The concept of individual empowerment, though not easily defined, manifests itself
in reality as both internal and external change. Theorists have introduced two
distinct, but interrelated types of individual empowerment psychological
empowerment and political empowerment.
Gruber and Trickett (1987) define psychological empowerment as happening at the
level of individual consciousness and feelings. The focus here is on internal
resources such as self-awareness, self-efficacy and the internal locus of control,
while political empowerment is defined as change at a personal level that enables an
individual to participate in decision-making that affects their life.
A third level of empowerment is economic empowerment, which entails a capacity to
access resources and utilize these resources to create wealth. This asset
accumulation is thus assumed to generate streams of income that create sustenance
of the decision-making unit i.e. the household or family.
To these allow me to introduce a fourth level of empowerment, which I will call the
the integrated/all-round Empowerment. This is the empowerment that
combines both the power to make and implement decisions, the economic ability to
access and utilize resources to create wealth and is supported by an internal
environment that believes change is possible. The latter is what can be described as
an internal locus of control, the I-can-do-it attitude.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me seek to answer the question: what are the institutional structures and
processes that produce empowerment of youth?

The institutions in question could either be political, social or economic and their
architecture is critical in determining the path, type and duration that empowerment
will take. I would like to submit five points detailing the characteristics that
institutions must possess in order for them to deliver empowerment.

Institutions must recognize the youth. Recognition here does not simply mean
cognizant of their presence, it must give them a seat at the table, it must
accord them an opportunity to speak and to be heard. The acceptance that
there is a problem that needs to be made right is the first step towards
addressing a problem. Institutions will not be able to deliver youth
empowerment if they do not recognize the pool of talent that resides in the
youth amongst them.


Institutions must promote inclusivity. Exclusion of the youth perpetuates an

anti-thesis of empowerment. The youth are empowered through a
mainstreaming approach, including them in important activities.


Institutions must be dynamic. Change is the one constant factor in life;

people and systems are forever changing, the former generation will age and
must inevitably pass on the baton to the youth. Therefore, institutions should
be flexible enough to be responsive when such changes take place, they
should embrace the youth and encourage mentorship that will allow for a
seamless succession from one generation of leaders and workers to the next.


Institutions that promote empowerment are those that empower the mind,
allowing freethinking, creativity and innovation. Senge (2006) suggests that
institutions must be cognizant that the ability to change is directly
proportional to ones ability to learn or empower oneself. As mentioned
earlier, the inner belief of empowerment and the willingness to change is half
the battle won on empowerment. Institutions must therefore build the
confidence of the youth.


For institutions to produce empowerment there is need to put money where

the mouth is. Without financial investment in empowerment, it is a logical
fallacy to expect to produce empowerment. The financial resources must be
committed in order to build empowerment of the youth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The youth of this country are proudly recognized in the constitution. Article 55 of the
constitution states the importance of investing in the youth. It notes The State shall
take measures including affirmative action programs to ensure that the youth:

Access relevant education and training;

Are provided opportunities to participate freely in political, social and

economic spheres of life;

Access employment; and

Are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation.

Institutions of the State are therefore obliged to provide opportunities for the youth
to excel in all spheres of life, to enhance their forms of livelihood, as well as to meet
their basic needs and services.
The constitution recognizes the importance of this demographic cohort of the
population and the role they shall play in making Kenya a more prosperous country.
The youth after all, are the most important stakeholders of this country because
they represent a large bulk of the entire population.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, the world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and
24. Never before have there been so many young people and never again are we

likely to be presented with such an opportunity to harness the socio-economic

dividend of this demographic. Therefore, how we address the concerns of young
people will definitively shape our future.
Kenya contributes toward this statistic; a notable feature of this countrys population
structure is the increase of the youth. According to the 2009 Kenya population and
housing census, Kenyas youth, aged between 18-35 years account for more than
30% of the total population representing approximately 13.7 million youth today,
assuming a growth of 2.4% per annum since the census. Kenyas age structure is
skewed more toward the youth. This phenomenon is known as the youth bulge; a
situation whereby the countrys cohort of youth is significantly higher compared to
other age brackets of the population.
The youth bulge is often associated with the demographic dividend, also known as a
demographic bonus or window of opportunity. This dividend is defined as the period
in a country in which a majority of its population is dominated by the working age
relative to the number of dependents, either retired or younger on that working age.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The logic with the demographic dividend is that it reduces the extent of dependency
on the working cohort of the population thereby encouraging increased savings and
investments amongst this cohort so as to improve economic growth by investing in
education, health care while adopting innovative systems of industry.
Academics and economic planners have noted that there are two major factors that
will determine Africas future economic growth prospects; these include growth in
the working age cohort of the population and institutional dependability. In this case
institutional dependability will strongly embrace the five characteristics of
empowerment I just mentioned.

It is not automatic that the youth bulge shall translate into a demographic dividend.
A great deal must be done, in terms of placing the right emphasis on the right
economic sectors to spur growth in a positive direction. As a government, a great
number of programs and projects in education, health, infrastructure, energy
amongst others combined with youth empowerment are being implemented in order
to realize this dividend.
As such, the role of government in empowering youth is to provide access to
financial assistance programs, remove barriers to doing business, and pursue
affirmative action policies when necessary. As I will discuss later, these are all
activities that my Ministry is implementing.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kenya is at a critical juncture in its history; almost five years ago now, the country
turned over a new leaf by promulgating a progressive constitution that ushered in a
new form of governance, devolution.
The promise of devolution was that it would assure a more inclusive and
participatory form of governance; one that would ensure the basic needs of citizens
across all parts of this country are met while creating opportunities for Kenyans to
participate in both economic and governance spheres. Indeed, two years into its
implementation, recent studies show that Kenyans have gained considerably from
the socio-economic dividends of devolution. A lot of potential resides in this new
form of governance to create wealth and improve governance at the county
government level and the youth are best placed to access these opportunities.
The constitution of Kenya has significantly changed the governance landscape in this
country by enhancing accountability, separating the three branches of government
and increasing the extent of public participation and oversight in governance.

Resources are now devolved to county governments where money can be locally
absorbed. Also take note that the constitution reserves seats in key decision-making
bodies to formerly marginalized groups including the youth.
These measures are pragmatic and recognize that Kenya is a youthful nation that
needs to resolve the social, economic and political needs of the young generation,
they seek to empower the youth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Ministry has embarked on a number of programmatic interventions aimed at
supporting the youth take up opportunities towards their empowerment. This is
happening in the areas of financial assistance programs, internship programs, social
transformation through the NYS and more efficient access to public services through
Huduma Kenya.
Under the 30% procurement preference for youth, women and persons with
disabilities, these three cohorts have accessed a total of Ksh9.4 billion shillings in the
first 2 quarters of 2014/15 financial year. It is expected that by the end of the
financial year, this will have increased to Ksh30 Billion. Certification for the Access to
Government Procurement Opportunities is now available at various counties and
huduma centers, making it easier for you as a youth to access this certificate. I urge
all those amongst you who are entrepreneurs, to register your businesses, obtain an
AGPO certificate and supply goods and services to government.
May I just mention here that this program is a constitutional obligation further to
article 55 of the constitution on youth and article 227 on procurement that requires





disadvantaged by unfair competition or discrimination.

Ladies and Gentlemen,




To further support entrepreneurial development, the government is providing access

to affordable credit and business training to youth through the Youth Enterprise
Development Fund and the Uwezo Fund.

The Youth Fund, continues to design

innovative products to service the dynamic market represented by the youth. Some
of these include the Take254, which is a product for the film industry.
With the expansion of the tech-industry, the government is exploring ways in which
we can link tech-preneurs start-ups with established enterprises and provide them
with business development services. This is coupled with seeking ways to assist
these young innovators, protect their innovations and intellectual property rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, last year we embarked on a process of restructuring the National
Youth Service, to become the premier institution that will drive the youth
transformation agenda. We are cognizant that unless we have a critical mass of
conscientious youth who believe that they can positively drive the transformation of
this country, for the betterment of all, this country will never move forward. Several
youth empowerment projects have been launched in Nairobis informal settlements
with a view to creating sustainable livelihoods for the youth in those communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is the primary role of government to ensure that it delivers services to the people
in the most efficient and effective way. It is for this reason that we established the
One stop-shop Huduma centers. So far approximately 14 huduma centers are
currently operational that serve more than 13,000 people per day. A great number
of these are youth.
These centers have now made it very easy for the youth to access important
services that will enable them pursue business opportunities, such as search and
reservation of business names as well as obtaining certificates of good conduct.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Government is committed, to gradually rooting out out idleness amongst the youth
in society by providing and facilitating income generating opportunities that can
afford the youth an opportunity to take pride in independently earning a living.
One of the primary concerns of my Ministry at this time is ensuring that theres
optimal utilization of the youths potential contribution towards achieving social,
economic and political goals. The present and future generation of young people in
Kenya is a critical cog in the machine if we intend to realize the objectives laid out in
Vision 2030. The youth of this great country present an extraordinary opportunity for
rapid economic transformation. I urge you all to leverage the opportunities that the
government is offering on youth empowerment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would wish to conclude with 2 things. It is evident that this country is going
through a transition. On political reforms, Kenya has transitioned from a centralized
system, to a devolved system of government with two levels of government at
national and county-level. On the legislative side we have transitioned from a
unicameral to a bi-cameral parliament consisting of the National Assembly and the
Senate. While in the executive we have transitioned from a parliamentary system to
a presidential system of governance.

Kenya has evolved to be a maturing

democracy with a unitary State consisting of three arms of government: the

executive, the legislature and the judiciary with greater autonomy. These are all
major milestones in consolidating our governance reform as a country.
On the economic front, Kenya is transforming, as highlighted by H.E the President
during the State of The Nation address yesterday. Kenya is one of the fastest
growing economies in the world. Despite sluggish global growth, our economy is
steadily expanding at 6 percent, consolidating our position as the largest nonmineral driven economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. This transformation has not gone

unnoticed to the global keen eye. We have been tapped by Bloomberg as the 3rd
fastest growing economy in the world! Kenya is also ranked as one of the 7 best
countries for investments with the second biggest market for retail investors; one of
the 21 Smart cities and the 7th most intelligent city in Africa; We have been ranked
as having the best cargo airline and the 3rd best airport in Africa; and boast the best
think tank, in Africa (KIPPRA). These recognitions are not by ourselves, but by very
reputable global agencies.
Two weeks ago, in Morocco, Kenyas public service one-stop shops - Huduma
centers, won the number one gold Africa Public Administration And Management
Award in Africa from amongst 34 countries. Kenya was awarded this prize for having
initiated public service reforms that enable citizens to access public services with
ease, convenience, transparently and efficiently.
These transitions are indeed significant they are aimed at transforming our country.
However, it is my view that we also need to go through a social and moral
transformation. You only need to read the dailies, to be treated to ghastly stories of
bad behavior in our society. Whatever happened to us as a country? Why have we
allowed ourselves to fall so low?
It is very clear that no state or organization, be it private, public, formal or informal,
can prosper without a proper ethical foundation.

This must be reflected in its

constituents self-worth, work and personal relationships, and must flow from family
to the business and community and eventually to the whole nation.

This is the

circular flow of values. Values flow through agents as they interact, in class, in the
community, in business and even in government. As such, part of the success of the
youth, will be in working towards building an ethical society, by seeking to influence
each other and the society at large with positive values. The youth will have to
redefine leadership, governance and civic duty. Only then can we build a truly
prosperous country. This is a theory, I conceptualized more than 10 years ago. For
those who are interested in this subject, I would like to refer you to the first ever
Ethics Conference held in this country organized by Strathmore University, where I

wrote and presented a paper titled Founding an Ethical Kenya: The role of the
business Sector. This paper is published and would give more details on how the
circular flow of values actually works.
Second, I know what it feels like to be at the cusp of take-off, I too was once a
youth and in this phase of transition between university and the real world, where
you have had a taste of freedom and liberty to pursue your own goals, aspirations
and ambitions. However, I would like to challenge you, as young people sometimes
we think that the fact of our youth guarantees us an audience, a seat at the decision
making table, and attention from the older generation. What you all have to
remember, is that to get this attention, and have the opportunity to lead and
contribute to decision making, you have to distinguish yourself as exemplary and
excellent. You have to stand out from the crowd. Only the diligent, disciplined and
hardworking will truly make a difference. The competition is not between the older
and the younger generation, the competition is amongst yourselves as young
people. So take a stand, and determine to stand tall!
I will end with the words of Jonathan Kozol let us pick battles big enough to
matter, small enough to win. As young people, let us always believe that you as a
small unit can make a difference that will have a gigantic impact!

Thank you all for your time.