Kenya’s economy is "in turbulence", opposition leader Raila Odinga has said.
The ODM leader said Kenya’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, with 17 per cent of the youth, who are the majority population, lacking jobs.
“Our country is hurting," he told inventors in Kisumu in a statement read by Governor Jack Ranguma. "Despite the glossy projections we have chosen to believe, the reality is that our economy is in turbulence."
To arrest runaway joblessness, Mr Odinga said, the government should get its priorities right and focus on them.
“First, let us talk openly and act candidly against corruption," he said.
"Corruption is taking away at least 250,000 jobs every year from our country. With a reputation like the one we gained last month as the third most corrupt country in the world, it takes a really brave investor to try Kenya."
He went on: “Our unemployment rate is among the highest in the world. It stands at three times that of Uganda and Tanzania.
"The World Bank says one in every five Kenyan youths of working age has no job compared to Uganda and Tanzania, where about one in every 20 young people is jobless.”
He said youth unemployment, if not addressed, would be a disaster for Kenya and urged the business community to help deal with it.
“A nation that has no jobs for its youth is a nation working against itself. The business community can play a vital role in reversing this trend,” said Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga said Kenya is a signatory to the Maputo Declaration that stipulates that at least 10 per cent of the national Budget must go to agriculture but we have never attained even five per cent.
If well funded, farming can create millions of jobs and help fight hunger, he said.
“We must pursue radical reforms in the agricultural sector and address the issue of standards,” he said.
Mr Ranguma read the speech as he closed a three-day trade investment forum by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kisumu on Thursday.
The governor used the opportunity to woo local and foreign investors to Kisumu, saying the county government had created an enabling environment for business.
“A recent Word Bank survey ranked Kisumu as the best county in Kenya and number 40 in the world in terms of ease of doing business," he said.
"It means that your investment in Kisumu is never in vain."
He hailed Mr Odinga for helping inculcate an attitude change that embraces investment in the region.
“You no longer hear the narrative of stone throwing in this region and residents have embraced peace because they are aware that businesses can only thrive in a peaceful environment,” he added.
- Cord leader Raila Odinga.