Why Kenyans are afraid of 2019

Kenyans are most concerned about the state of their finances ahead of the New Year with unemployment and business prospects foremost on their list of worries, a new survey indicates.

The study by research firm Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa) shows a mix of fear and optimism for 2019 on job and business prospects.

Four out of 10 Kenyans, or 44 per cent of those interviewed in the poll conducted between December 19 and 21, expect prospects of setting up a business to improve in the coming year which is five days away. Another 32 per cent are scouting for new jobs in 2019.

And the rising cost of living notwithstanding, there is some optimism with 24 per cent saying they will strive to strike a balance between work and life and 31 per cent want to pursue higher education to perhaps boost their employability.

Notably, the findings point to Kenya’s biting unemployment crunch, which has left many in crisis with a vast majority of people reporting that they make less money than they require for basic needs.

The sentiments on employment prospects, explained Tifa CEO Maggie Ireri, are indicative of the realities of the job market that experienced massive layoffs in various sectors.

“The desire to set up a business is by both the employed and unemployed. Those in regular employment feel that their income is inadequate and therefore the need to have additional income-generating activities while the unemployed want to meet their basic needs,” Ms Ireri said.

“Interestingly, over half (52 per cent) of Kenyans also made a goal to venture into business in 2018 but only half of them (28 per cent) achieved that. It could be because they lacked capital or the requisite skills to be successful,” she said.

The Tifa-funded study conducted through face to face interviews was done across the country, reaching a sample size of 1,267 in rural and urban areas.

Tifa Research Director Maggie Ireri

It further lifts the lid on the economic hardship Kenyans have endured in 2018, with 58 per cent citing the high cost of living as the biggest challenge. Unemployment (14 per cent), lack of access to credit (six per cent), poverty (five per cent) and poor healthcare at three per cent were also felt across the country.

Despite the optimism on entrepreneurship and new jobs in the coming year, 56 per cent of Kenyans interviewed said 2018 was a bad year while 43 per cent thought it was favourable.

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