President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the National Youth Service (NYS) to engage more in commercial activities and to especially play a lead role in reviving the country’s cotton sector. He issued the directive as he underscored the role of the youth in achievement of the Big Four agenda for transforming the country through the expansion of manufacturing, affordable housing, food security and universal healthcare.
Uhuru, who spoke when he presided over the passing out parade of 15,461 NYS recruits at the National Youth Service College, Gilgil Friday, said the Government is taking bold steps to utilise the youth in spearheading the country’s economic revival.
“The pillars of the Big Four are held up by our youth: in every area of endeavour, our young people are called to distinguish themselves. Indeed, the National Youth Service must play a critical role in the attainment of the Big Four Agenda,” said the President. Uhuru asked NYS to expedite its commercialisation agenda, especially in the areas of agribusiness, garment making and construction.
As part of the plan to revive the cotton sector, NYS will be allocated 100,000 acres of the Galana Kulalu Complex, and the model National Irrigation farm in the Tana Delta. The President, who advocated for more public-public partnerships, also directed the Numerical Machining Complex and the NYS Mechanical and Transport Training School to collaborate in skills sharing and expansion of products in order to tap into the expanding construction market.
“Often, we speak of public-private partnerships as vehicles of economic growth. Whereas these are important, I would like to encourage more public-public partnerships,” he said. The collaboration between the NMC and NYS is also geared towards playing a bigger role in the expansion of Standard Gauge Railway and Lapset, among other projects.
“The key to achieving our national goals and the aspirations of our people, including Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda, lies in working together in deliberate and strategic partnerships,” said the President.
The President said the collaboration with NYS will ensure modern equipment owned by the NMC, established 30 years ago but operates at less than 30 percent, will be put to good use. Uhuru also directed the NYS to restart its community work which has so far achieved a remarkable impact in the improvement of living conditions in disadvantage regions and poor urban neighbourhoods.
By the end of the period to October 2017, the programme, which was kicked off during the first term of the Jubilee Administration, had engaged 236,250 community youth in 253 constituencies across all the 47 counties.
The youth who were engaged in NYS community work had saved a total of Sh3.48 billion in 688 SACCOs by October 2017. According to government records, a significant portion of the savings is already circulating in youth businesses ranging from merchandising, agency business, transportation, communication, agriculture, entertainment, beauty and hospitality.
He also reiterated his directive that all disciplined forces must absorb a certain number of NYS graduates during each recruitment. “I am informed that only the National Police Service and the Prisons Service have since recruited a few servicemen and women,” said the President.
“Going forward, and recognising the importance of absorbing our youth into the disciplined forces, I shall require a compliance update from all disciplined services following each intake.” As part of the graduation ceremony, with the largest number of recruits in the history of the service, the President also presented awards to best recruits and officers.
The NYS was training an average of 4,000 recruits until 2013 but now the number of trainees has been raised to 30,000 accommodated in two annual intakes. Newly sworn-in Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary Prof Margaret Kobia also addressed the graduands, making her first public engagement since her appointment.