Thursday, January 05, 2012

Unemployment in Kenya: the rural/urban divide

Unemployment is a lot higher in urban areas in Kenya. Infact among the 15-30 age group, the unemployment is between 30-40%. There are many reasons, but ofcourse the key driver is that for the last 30 years, economic and population have competed for parity. Nationally, but in urban areas population growth has far outweighed economic growth. Its a problem that even China faces today, but its been growing at 9% compared to 2-3% for Kenya.
And yet. A friend tells of a situation where he recently hired some guys to build a stone wall for him. After spending the best part of an hour haggling over hat they'd get paid, the guys finished at 4.30pm without getting to where they had agreed. The next day, some of them turned up drank and reopened the discussion relating to the payment. In the end he had to fire the several of them including the foreman because he realised he won't get anything done. Its difficult to get people who are interested in doing sales in particular sectors for example, I know somebody who is struggling to get sellers of pcs/laptops partly because the roles are mostly commission-based.. Part of the problem is that people have lost a certain work ethic and yet desire the things that money brings. There is also certain desire for white-collar jobs which are not that many compared to their demand.
In most rural areas (specifically Central/ parts of RV), farmers are struggling with their farms because they can't farm labourers to take on various paid chores.
The question is how this bridge can closed. Firstly, is that farming needs to get more commercial such that farmers are in turn able to pay labourers living wages. Secondly, the stigma attached to educated doing farming jobs needs to be removed. In this vein, there is a school thought that says farmers need to start advertising for labourers...

1 comment:

Njau Gatoho said...

I think what farmers need is to be less labour oriented