Nairobi, 08 December 2021… Ajira Digital Program, an initiative of the Government of Kenya under the Ministry of ICT, Innovations, and Youth Affairs which is being funded by Mastercard Foundation and implemented by different partners including Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) today hosted a discussion forum with Business Executives in Kenya to assess and explore the synergies and potential collaboration opportunities within the digital market and economy.
The premier forum held at a city hotel follows a recent national study on the digital economy which indicated that more than 1.2 million young people are earning their livelihood through digital and digitally-enabled jobs. This scale has been reached as a result of the growing importance of Kenya’s digital ecosystem and the role of the private sector in spurring innovations, jobs, and enterprises for youth. Part of this has been made possible by businesses embracing digitization as a core strategy for enhancing operations while creating jobs for youth. This is the central focus of the Ajira Digital Program.
Speaking at the premier forum, KEPSA’s Chief Executive Officer Ms. Carole Kariuki in a speech read by the KEPSA’s Deputy CEO-Projects and Foundation, Ms. Martha Cheruto, highlighted what the private sector companies have been actively involved in especially in supporting the implementation of youth employment programs such as Safaricom’s Blaze, ABSA Bank Kenya’s Ready-To-Work, KCB’s2Jiajiri, Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly, Mabati Rolling Mills’ Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, and TVET programs among other programs. Ms. Carole added that most employers are currently looking for employees who can work remotely and apply digital skills as indicated on a report by MercyCorps which predicted that by 2030, nearly 55 percent of all jobs in Kenya will require digital skills, nearly three times the demand pre-pandemic. The shift in the job market, thus, would see increased opportunities for youth including those living with disabilities but only if they were supported.
In light of the aforementioned, it is imperative for business executives to engage with the Ajira Digital project to explore potential solutions and prospects for collaboration. The ultimate goal is to create value for businesses and boost digital job opportunities for Kenyan youth while contributing to the country’s economic growth.
Dr. Ehud Gachugu, Project Director – Ajira Digital Program, highlighted a recently concluded National study on the Digital economy which indicated that about 1.2 million young people are eking their livelihood through digital and digitally-enabled jobs. He also pointed out that Ajira has connected eCommerce platforms to business owners and increased awareness of various platforms such as SkyGarden, Range, AirDuka among others. He then advised business leaders to digitize their processes and tap into these digital workers as they look into reducing business costs and solve capacity issues while at the same time focusing on more core functions and increased productivity from their employees.
“Together, we can catalyse and enable the demand side locally, regionally and internationally” said Ehud.
Among the panelists in the discussion session was Rosemary Momanyi of Google Ads Marketing who is the Lead for East & West Africa who extolled the impact that the Ajira Digital Program has had in the digitization of businesses in Kenya through Google products. The partnership has seen over 1,500 businesses attending the Google workshops held in collaboration with Ajira. As a result, more than 3,000 jobs have been created for the youth engaged as field agents. Peter Karonji, CEO Twiva, an influencer-driven social commerce platform, appreciated Ajira stating that it has helped highlight the platform to potential clients as well as being a pipeline for talents. Mr. Martin Karuri of Talent Bridge, a talent management and intermediate platform, was also in the panel, called out on organisations to change their culture as well as people changing their mentality to accommodate digital platforms for jobs. He asked businesses to consider outsourcing especially of non-core organizational services that can possibly be outsourced through digital space.
The digital economy remains a top priority for the Government of Kenya and over the last 15 years, they have been committed to putting in place enabling policies and investments to support these efforts. Government, through the Ministry of ICT, has an objective to have broadband available to all Kenyans within walking distance even in rural areas. To date, over 200 Ajira Youth Empowerment Centres have been rolled out countrywide, over 40 Ajira Digital Clubs established in Universities and TVET institutions, and more than 200,000 youth registered on the Ajira Portal https://ajiradigital.go.ke/
The Nairobi business executives’ forum is the first of a series of discussion engagements organized by Ajira Digital Program that provide a platform where an ecosystem of various stakeholders can engage and explore the solutions and opportunities that exist through the Program. The forum moves to Homabay and Kisumu on December 14th and 15th respectively.