Challenges facing Kenya

January 10, 2015 6:05 am  /  Africa, Travels
Challenges facing Kenya

Two worlds coexist within Kenya: the paradise-like environment enjoyed by foreigners, and the harsh reality, endured by locals. Although there is little overlap between the two, it is often hard to turn a blind eye to the other, as they have a co-dependent relationship. 20% of the Kenyan GDP comes from tourism, and related activities: any sharp decrease in tourist arrivals can potentially have a devastating effect on the economy as a whole, and that’s the key issue at hand.

The Nairobi American Embassy bombing in 1999, the post-election riots in 2008, and the recent Garissa shooting in April 2015 have all contributed to record-low tourism figures, which has provoked a never-before seen wave of rising unemployment. In 2014, over 40% of the Kenyan population was unemployed, primarily due to bleak economic forecasts: trust in the economy has vanished.

Although these figures are compelling, they only tell half the story. Children are rapidly dropping out of school, as the total cost of education is becoming a burden: after forking out large sums of money, fresh graduates can’t even find a job for themselves. Kibera, near Nairobi, is now home to over 1 million Kenyans living in extreme poverty; their number is expected to increase as more unfinished buildings are converted into shanties. Looking ahead, the challenge is in convincing younger generations to complete their education – the worst that could happen for Kenya is to depend on foreigners for the more qualified jobs.

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