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Gov’t challenges youth to embrace innovations

Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has challenged the youth to tap into the facilitative structures that the government has put in place to invest in innovations and technologies as a way of taming the runaway unemployment and address their present day challenges.

Mucheru said young people in the country possess impressive innovative skills that need to be nurtured, scaled up and absorbed in all sectors of the economy to bring the much desired change in economic development.

Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Juja during the Kiambu County Youth Innovations and Entrepreneurship week Thursday, the CS said the country was among the major Innovation and Technology hubs in Africa, thus the need to tap into those opportunities to make global innovations.

He cited the high speed internet, road networks, electricity connections, the Ajira Youth empowerment centres and high quality basic and tertiary education saying they facilitated innovations.

Other supportive infrastructure includes the development of policies that are friendly to micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMs) as well as a working legal framework to help innovators in cases of copyrights.

“We have established that our young people are quite innovative, hence we have provided the necessary supportive infrastructure for them to grow. As the national government, we need to take advantage of these skills to help in solving the ever present challenges including unemployment, food security, national security and health among others,” said Mucheru.

At the same time, the CS said innovations like the Ushahidi, M-pesa, M-kopa, DamuSasa, Lion Lights and Rhino have made the country to be recognized globally in terms of technology.

He said through various agencies including ICT Authority, KeNIA, Konza Technopolis Development Authority among others, the government is doing a lot to exploit the innovative culture in the country.

“Through policy formulations and having a working legal framework, we have supported business. Our role is not to formalize the informal sector, but rather to help it grow and that’s why we have seen a highly competitive business environment,” he said.

Other areas that the Ministry has helped the youth grow their talents and innovations include the setting up of six Studio Mashinani projects in Nairobi, Gatanga, Mombasa, Kisumu, Machakos and Kitui to help develop the youth’s creative talents and enable them to earn from it.

Kiambu Governor Dr James Nyoro who was the host said they will tap into the top innovations and ensure they are scaled up.

He said they link them to financial institutions for support and also to other entrepreneurs who can buy the innovations.

The governor at the same time revealed that they are working closely with a local bank, where they have put in Sh138 million as leverage to be able to guarantee entrepreneurs Sh1.3 billion from the financial institution.

Through the programme, the youth will receive loans without securities and at a reduced interest rate of 8%.

“The thinking is to bring many youths to the entrepreneurship and innovation sector and enable them not only to earn but also create wealth and jobs,” he said.

More than 200 youth from various universities and colleges showcased their innovations at the four-day event.

By Maureen Kyalo and Muoki Charles

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