Monday, August 03, 2020

Kenya's Youth Potential

Africa’s demographic boom has been hailed as its biggest promise for transforming the continent’s economic and social outcomes, but only if the right investments are made to prepare its youthful population for tomorrow’s world.

Consider this. Every 24 hours, nearly 33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment. About 60% will be joining the army of the unemployed. Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. 

Kenya has one of the youngest populations in the world. With the right investment in their talents, skills, and spirit, young people present an extraordinary opportunity for transformation, growth, and change.

Three quarters Kenya’s population is under the age of 35. Across Africa there are 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, a demographic that is expected to double by 2045.

One of the greatest challenges facing governments and policymakers in Africa is how to provide opportunities for the continent’s youth, in order to provide them with decent lives and allow them to contribute to the economic development of their countries. 

As things stand, around 70% of Africa’s young people live below the poverty line.

A million young people join the workforce every year in Kenya, applying for jobs in a formal sector that can only absorb one in five of them. Some, however, find work at least intermittently in Kenya’s vibrant informal sector, which accounts for more than 80% of the country’s economy according to the World Bank.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on governments to “do far more to tap their talents as we tackle the pandemic and chart a recovery that leads to a more peaceful, sustainable and equitable future for all”.


http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/08/proper-investment-youth-kenyas-potential-progress-unlimited/

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Unilever Challenged in Kenya

A group of 218 Kenyan tea plantation workers have filed a complaint with the UN against Unilever, alleging that the multinational violated international human rights standards by not adequately assisting its employees, who were attacked when ethnic violence broke out following a disputed election in 2007.

Unilever, known in the UK for its PG Tips brand, breached its obligation to remediate any human rights abuses to which it has contributed, which is central to the UN’s guiding principles on business and human rights, and which the company has endorsed. They request the UN’s working group on business and human rights to make a declaration to this effect, and to call on the company to provide redress.

The workers lived on a plantation in Kericho, in western Kenya, operated by a Unilever subsidiary and at that time hosting more than 10% of the company’s global workforce. Most were from the Kisii tribe, which is not indigenous to the area. After the 2007 presidential election, violence broke out across Kenya, leading to more than 1,300 deaths nationwide. In Kericho attackers invaded the plantation and assaulted hundreds of workers and their families. Seven people died, and others were raped and seriously injured, according to the complaint.

“This was the most serious known case of human rights abuse suffered by the largest concentration of Unilever workers anywhere in the world,” it said.

 Following the violence, Unilever closed the plantation temporarily and sent workers home. The victims say they were not paid for six months, “exacerbating their situation”. They brought a court case in the UK, but in 2019 the supreme court declined jurisdiction, saying Unilever’s Kenyan subsidiary was responsible for risk management of any crises and as such any case should be heard in Kenya.

Daniel Leader, a lawyer with Leigh Day, the firm that filed Thursday’s complaint on the victims’ behalf, says that Unilever “relentlessly hid behind its corporate structure” to prevent the case proceeding in the UK. The complaint requests a UN statement on “litigation strategies used by parent companies to distance themselves from subsidiaries and shield themselves from liability for human rights abuses occurring in their corporate group”.

“A lot of these issues and abuses take place in Africa, where impunity is a big issue,” he said. “If even companies who are claiming to be world leaders in the principles are flouting them when faced with actual victims, then that’s a big problem.”

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/aug/01/kenyan-tea-workers-file-un-complaint-against-unilever-over-2007-ethnic-violence