Government to use technology to deal with violent youth

The Kenyan government is developing a plan to use technology to attract young men away from the illegal Mungiki sect.

The Kenyan government has developed a plan to use technology to tackle the problem of recruitment of young people into the illegal Mungiki sect.

The sect members paralyzed the public transport system in Kenya from April 14 to 17, demanding the release of their jailed leader, Maina Njenga.

The sect recruits young men who do not make it to high school. The youths recruited into the violent movement are usually considered societal rejects because they cannot get employment apart from manual jobs. The sect recruits them and provides daily stipends.

Asked how the plan will work, Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, said that the country's Digital Villages initiative will play a key role in harnessing the positive energy of the Kenyan youth.

The initiative is a government and private-sector project, with the first Digital Villages expected to go online by the end of June. Every constituency represented in Parliament will get a minimum of eight workstations, grouped within a 15-kilometer radius. The Ministry of Youth Affairs says it will provide training in entrepreneurship, and the microfinance institutions have existing training programs.

"Digital Villages are vehicles for creating wealth in rural Kenya," Ndemo said. "The government is to outsource some functions like census to the youth. We are hoping that the centers will be used as points of sale and franchise locations," Ndemo said.

Ndemo added that the government, through the Kenya ICT Board, will embark on a vigorous campaign to sensitize and train the youths on the various roles they can play in Digital Villages.

"Technology will change lives; once we start, there will be renewed hope. There are no rejects in society, and social equity is taken seriously," Ndemo said.

The government will engage the youths in data entry in the digitization of government records at the local level. The divisions, districts, provincial and national offices are expected to start the digitization in the next three months, in line with the Digital Villages project.

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Rebecca Wanjiku

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