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close this bookThe Transition of Youth from School to Work: Issues and Policies (IIEP, 2000, 188 p.)
close this folderChapter IV. The integration of youth into the informal sector: the Kenyan experience by Ahmed K. Ferej
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Background
View the document2. The growth of the informal sector in Kenya
View the document3. Vocationalization of the formal education system
View the document4. Accessibility to skill training in the informal sector
View the document5. Implications for education and training
View the documentConclusion

1. Background

1.1 Physical characteristics

Kenya obtained her political independence from the British in December 1963, after 65 years of colonial rule. Kenya is a multiethnic and multiracial country with an elected government. Kenya straddles the equator and is located on the East Coast of Africa. Only about 20 per cent of its land area has the climatic condition to support agriculture. The rest of the land area is semi-arid with little rainfall to support food crop production. This area is sparsely populated by mostly nomadic communities. Its location on the Indian Ocean and the provision of a deep-water harbour with adequate facilities to handle large sea vessels has made it the gateway to many African countries such as Uganda, Southern Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi.

1.2 Economic characteristics

Economic performance has been inconsistent over the past three decades since independence. The first decade after independence provided the best sustained performance, averaging a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 6.7 per cent registered for the period 1964-1973. The next two decades resulted in average net declines of 5.3 per cent and 3.6 per cent. The 1990s has registered the most inconsistent performance, with the lowest performance ever coming in 1993 at 0.2 per cent (GOK, 1996). After a minor temporary recovery in the middle of the decade, the economy is once again on a downward trend and was expected to reach only 1.5 per cent for 1999. It is therefore now clear that the government target of 5.6 percent annual growth rate for the period between 1984 and the year 2000, as stipulated in Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1986 (GOK, 1986), will not be achieved.

1.3 Demographic characteristics

The population of Kenya was projected at 27.5 million in 1995 at an annual growth rate of 2.7 per cent (GOK, 1996). This is an improvement from earlier rates that peaked at 4.1 per cent in the mid -1980s. About 80 per cent of the population of Kenya live in the rural areas. This reflects the economic activity of the country, which is mostly based in agricultural activities. It is estimated that about 60 per cent of the population of Kenya are under the age of 20. Providing education and training therefore takes nearly 30 per cent of the government's annual budget.

1.4 Labour force characteristics

In 1997, 4.7 million persons were employed outside of small-scale agriculture and pastoral activities (GOK, 1998). This was an increase of 8.7 per cent over 1996. The public sector has stagnated due to donor pressures to reduce spending by the government. There has been virtually no change in the number of public employees for the past five years, that now stands at about 700,000 persons. The public sector's share in total wage employment reduced from 49.6 per cent in 1991 to 42.5 per cent in 1997 (GOK, 1998). In the modern formal sector of the economy, growth has been fairly small. The total number of employees in the modern formal sector grew by only 3.1 per cent to 1,646,000 only in 1967, while the informal sector expanded by 18 per cent in 1966 and 13 per cent in 1998 to stand at 2,986,900 persons. Thus more and more school leavers now join the informal sector that is rapidly growing and accounts for over 63.6 per cent of the labour force (GOK, 1998)