Kenyan youths have been asked to embrace online jobs under the Ajira Digital Programme aimed at addressing high unemployment by offering alternatives to white collar jobs.
The initiative by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) helps young people learn new digital skills in data entry and management, transcription, academic writing and digital marketing, among other courses, to enable them to take advantage of digital opportunities.
Ajira Digital Rift Valley Coordinator Richard Masore said young people should take advantage of the programme to acquire new skills for economic empowerment.
Mr Masore said the majority of youths were concentrating on formal jobs while they could earn a decent income online, where he said more than one million Kenyans were working.
“The programme has also seen over two million people enabled to access digital and digitally enabled job opportunities,” he said.
More than 300 youth empowerment centres established across the country, he said, were providing youths with free computers, internet and working spaces to earn from online jobs.
He said the programme had significantly helped address the unemployment challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that rendered millions of Kenyans jobless by opening an avenue for online jobs.
He spoke during a business leaders’ engagement forum in Isiolo town that brought together entrepreneurs and prospective investors from across the county.
A total of 247 youths in Isiolo have benefited since the programme started.
Ms Sadia Hassan, a beneficiary, said she used to earn about Sh20,000 monthly from transcription and called for the scaling up of the efforts in rural areas to reach more people.
“Youth should take advantage of the programme to access numerous opportunities available in the digital economy to earn a living,” she said.
The Isiolo youth innovation centre, established by the Kenya School of Government in partnership with the Isiolo County government, has been providing youths with facilities and space.
Dr Ehud Gachugu, the Ajira Digital Project director at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), said that with conventional jobs diminishing by the day, stakeholders must explore alternatives to sustainable employment opportunities.
“The digital economy continues to play a significant role in creating job opportunities for young people locally and internationally,” Dr Gachugu said.
Lack of digital infrastructure such as internet connection in rural areas, where a majority of the people do not have smartphones, remains an impediment as youths in the areas cannot access online training and jobs.
Mr Masore said the government was keen to increase internet coverage in arid and semi-arid counties to ensure Kenyans in the regions are at par with those in urban centres.
Sylvia Kizengwa, the World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Centre manager, said the organisation was committed to continuously working with Ajira to create sustainable job opportunities.
“We are keen on training youths to leverage on opportunities in the digital spaces, grow their businesses and earn a living,” she said, adding that 500 youths in Kibera, Nairobi, had been equipped with digital skills under the WFP Empact programme and that each was earning about Sh1500 daily.