Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng
November 14, 2019

Where are young people as Kenyan leaders mortgage their future with debt?

Hate or Like her, Swedish teen - Greta Thunberg has been vocal, fiery and honest about her climate change campaign. She has boycotted school, rallied folks online and spoken to power – the high and mighty including at the UN General Assembly. 

Greta’s has been a spirited campaign challenging global elite about how their inaction is abetting destruction of the world’s ecosystems and how it puts in grave danger the future of young people who stand to lose from the mess that shall remain in decades to come. 

Greta is not alone in the mosaic of young people across the world who have stood up to speak about bad things that continue around us today. From climate change to terrorism, inequality and intolerance against minorities (LGBTQ, refugees, and ethnic minorities), young people have come out to be heard and to act.

In the US, for instance, Emma González led fellow students to protest the scourge of gun violence after far too many heartbreaking fatal cases of mass shooting. They boycotted school, held demonstrations, spoke and advocated for American law makers and government to do something about gun violence.

In Kenya, today, perhaps the most important issue that stands to impact the future of young people is the eminent public debt crisis. 

Economists and commentators have already cautioned enough about the rise of unsustainable public debt in Kenya. Standing at about Ksh6 trillion in 2019, the public debt is now a ticking time bomb. It tripled within just about six years rising from Ksh1.8 trillion in 2013 to Ksh6 trillion in 2019. 

Debt repayment obligations are already limiting government expenditure on essential goods and services like healthcare, education. They have slowed private sector growth because government is borrowing from local banks after exhausting credit options in the international front. This has denied local enterprises credit to grow their business and create more employment and risks limiting their ability to pay taxes. Also, because government has unfettered access to credit shrouded in secrecy, it has escaped scrutiny and accountability that normally is possible with tax revenues. 

The picture in the future, if things don’t drastically change, is even more grim. The Government of Kenya will be pushed to a tight corner. With huge debt obligations and demands for service delivery and infrastructure development yet working with a slim basket of national revenues.  

The Kenya Revenue Authority continues to perform below par in its revenue targets annually since 2013. This means that government revenues are growing slimmer. But the Jubilee government has continuously expanded its budget – demanding more revenues. 

What that means is that there is coming time, in the near future, when we shall have so much debt and so little in our domestic economy that can pay back our debt and remain with substantive revenues to spend on social services and grow the economy. It is highly likely that if this trend continues untamed, there will be more job losses, more poverty, more social strife and insecurity with likelihood of political upheaval in the near future. 

But as all this goes on, the question that lurks is, where is the voice of young people who stand to lose the most? 

What are young people saying about rising unsustainable public debt? Are young people aware of the grave implications the bad debt policies that have been made in this administration alone will have on their lives in the future? Where are the Gretas and Malalas of Kenya? 

There is a tired argument that many young people in Kenya keep making – that they are alienated from leadership. That they were told that they are leaders of tomorrow but tomorrow never seems to come. In fact, many young people are angry that the current government for example has not been pro-young in its allocation of public sector jobs and leadership positions.

However, truth be told, many young people in this country, and I am one of them, have failed the leadership test. And on this issue of public debt, young people appear far removed from the important conversation about how the country is cruising on overdrive into a disastrous crisis. 

There will be a price to pay if young people don’t act now! The old men and women running our government today will be long gone - fellowshipping with their makers.

When China will be auctioning our national assets and cabals of kleptocrats in the international markets where we took the Eurobonds will be running our streets and controlling our government and how we run our affairs – the old men and women will be long gone. It will be our mess to handle. We will have our children to answer to. Where were we? What did we do when our country was mortgaged and peddled to the highest bidder? What will we answer to them?

The irony however is, that young people in Kenya are perhaps one of the most dynamic in Africa. More educated, ICT savvy, innovative, free willed and open. This is because people who came before us fought for previous regimes to invest in education, health, a better economy, and rule of law to govern us and to guarantee free speech, free enterprise and equality to think and thrive. 

We fail them. Those who fought for liberties we enjoy today by not standing up and acting. We fail them by training our eyes and attention away from the important issues that threaten our future. 

Young people must act now. To get interested more in the conduct of our economy. To take initiative to understand the intrigues of our growing public debt. To question what it means for their future and to hold government to account on what it is borrowing and for what reasons. 

Young people must organize to teach and enlighten one another about the eminent debt crises. On social media, in their neighborhoods, in churches mosques, schools and entertainment joints, we must now begin and sustain a meaningful conversation around the sustainably of our public debt. Young people can also use technology to record debt and communicate it to the public to keep track. 

Like my high school teacher brother Dennis Abok used to say back in the day at Onjiko Boys – ‘A word to the wise is sufficient’. 

Young People Act Now Against Rising Unsustainable Public Debt!

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Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng
November 14, 2019

Where are young people as Kenyan leaders mortgage their future with debt?

Hate or Like her, Swedish teen - Greta Thunberg has been vocal, fiery and honest about her climate change campaign. She has boycotted school, rallied folks online and spoken to power – the high and mighty including at the UN General Assembly. 

Greta’s has been a spirited campaign challenging global elite about how their inaction is abetting destruction of the world’s ecosystems and how it puts in grave danger the future of young people who stand to lose from the mess that shall remain in decades to come. 

Greta is not alone in the mosaic of young people across the world who have stood up to speak about bad things that continue around us today. From climate change to terrorism, inequality and intolerance against minorities (LGBTQ, refugees, and ethnic minorities), young people have come out to be heard and to act.

In the US, for instance, Emma González led fellow students to protest the scourge of gun violence after far too many heartbreaking fatal cases of mass shooting. They boycotted school, held demonstrations, spoke and advocated for American law makers and government to do something about gun violence.

In Kenya, today, perhaps the most important issue that stands to impact the future of young people is the eminent public debt crisis. 

Economists and commentators have already cautioned enough about the rise of unsustainable public debt in Kenya. Standing at about Ksh6 trillion in 2019, the public debt is now a ticking time bomb. It tripled within just about six years rising from Ksh1.8 trillion in 2013 to Ksh6 trillion in 2019. 

Debt repayment obligations are already limiting government expenditure on essential goods and services like healthcare, education. They have slowed private sector growth because government is borrowing from local banks after exhausting credit options in the international front. This has denied local enterprises credit to grow their business and create more employment and risks limiting their ability to pay taxes. Also, because government has unfettered access to credit shrouded in secrecy, it has escaped scrutiny and accountability that normally is possible with tax revenues. 

The picture in the future, if things don’t drastically change, is even more grim. The Government of Kenya will be pushed to a tight corner. With huge debt obligations and demands for service delivery and infrastructure development yet working with a slim basket of national revenues.  

The Kenya Revenue Authority continues to perform below par in its revenue targets annually since 2013. This means that government revenues are growing slimmer. But the Jubilee government has continuously expanded its budget – demanding more revenues. 

What that means is that there is coming time, in the near future, when we shall have so much debt and so little in our domestic economy that can pay back our debt and remain with substantive revenues to spend on social services and grow the economy. It is highly likely that if this trend continues untamed, there will be more job losses, more poverty, more social strife and insecurity with likelihood of political upheaval in the near future. 

But as all this goes on, the question that lurks is, where is the voice of young people who stand to lose the most? 

What are young people saying about rising unsustainable public debt? Are young people aware of the grave implications the bad debt policies that have been made in this administration alone will have on their lives in the future? Where are the Gretas and Malalas of Kenya? 

There is a tired argument that many young people in Kenya keep making – that they are alienated from leadership. That they were told that they are leaders of tomorrow but tomorrow never seems to come. In fact, many young people are angry that the current government for example has not been pro-young in its allocation of public sector jobs and leadership positions.

However, truth be told, many young people in this country, and I am one of them, have failed the leadership test. And on this issue of public debt, young people appear far removed from the important conversation about how the country is cruising on overdrive into a disastrous crisis. 

There will be a price to pay if young people don’t act now! The old men and women running our government today will be long gone - fellowshipping with their makers.

When China will be auctioning our national assets and cabals of kleptocrats in the international markets where we took the Eurobonds will be running our streets and controlling our government and how we run our affairs – the old men and women will be long gone. It will be our mess to handle. We will have our children to answer to. Where were we? What did we do when our country was mortgaged and peddled to the highest bidder? What will we answer to them?

The irony however is, that young people in Kenya are perhaps one of the most dynamic in Africa. More educated, ICT savvy, innovative, free willed and open. This is because people who came before us fought for previous regimes to invest in education, health, a better economy, and rule of law to govern us and to guarantee free speech, free enterprise and equality to think and thrive. 

We fail them. Those who fought for liberties we enjoy today by not standing up and acting. We fail them by training our eyes and attention away from the important issues that threaten our future. 

Young people must act now. To get interested more in the conduct of our economy. To take initiative to understand the intrigues of our growing public debt. To question what it means for their future and to hold government to account on what it is borrowing and for what reasons. 

Young people must organize to teach and enlighten one another about the eminent debt crises. On social media, in their neighborhoods, in churches mosques, schools and entertainment joints, we must now begin and sustain a meaningful conversation around the sustainably of our public debt. Young people can also use technology to record debt and communicate it to the public to keep track. 

Like my high school teacher brother Dennis Abok used to say back in the day at Onjiko Boys – ‘A word to the wise is sufficient’. 

Young People Act Now Against Rising Unsustainable Public Debt!

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