The plea by President Uhuru Kenyatta for African countries to boost seamless continental integration to create jobs for the youth could not have come at a better time.
Uhuru said trade among African states was in dire need of buttressing to ensure decent and well-paying jobs for millions of youth on the continent.
As the President noted, more than 60 per cent of the continent’s population is aged 25 years and below. That is a remarkably young population facing joblessness, increasing alcohol and substance abuse and related perils that threaten both exuberance and existence.
And notably, the youth are at their most productive age, given that they enter the job market brimming with talent, energy and promise.
Captains of industry and business leaders have the onerous task of ensuring that the trajectory of economic development and progress also creates jobs, targeted at the youths.
Job creation task rests as much on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as it does on multinationals. This means that regional integration must be the place to start, with such policies as Common Market Protocol and common passports, among others, being pillars of inter and intra-regional trade.
By extension, the East African Community regional bloc must start to ask hard questions about what holds the process from realising its full potential of harmonising and marshalling the people’s aspirations to realisation.
It has been noted that the fear of the loss of sovereignty has held back integration progress, and this needs to be gotten rid of fast.
The need to expand markets and opportunities beyond borders cannot be gainsaid and must form the basis for further discussions and formulation of policies to support such framework.
Toward this direction, bottlenecks that undermine the process must be identified and addressed so that citizens across the region and indeed continent can start to think as one and forge ahead to become a continental force to reckon with.
Governments must show they have the political will to stop looking over their shoulders every time integration is mentioned.
Kenya can now be counted among the community of nations that supports youth employment, what with the revival of the Rivatex mill in Eldoret among other robust projects that target their welfare.
This and similar projects must be supported, especially through Public-Private Partnerships that have been identified as the engine for economic renaissance.