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Project Case Study

Creating employment opportunities for young people in Mombasa

Addressing the causes of youth unemployment

Youth unemployment is a major issue for Kenya, forming one of the top priorities of the Kenyan government. Education and skills development have long been seen as central to creating jobs.

In Mombasa, Kenya’s second city and the largest trading hub in East Africa, the rate of youth unemployment is, at 44%, extremely high and risks denying Mombasa the benefits that its demographics should offer.

In 2013, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) asked us to research and design a programme for DFID to address some of the causes of youth unemployment and create jobs.

Project info

Mombasa County Youth Employment Programme



  • DFID

We placed a particular focus upon the nexus between the private sector, education institutions, and Mombasa’s youth, recognising that young people fall into groups defined by levels of education and income. We found that basic education is not accessible enough and of insufficient quality, and that there is a gap between the skills young people offer and those businesses require. Access to finance is limited, job and market information is scarce, and the cost of doing business is high. Cultural attitudes and feelings of both marginalisation and victimisation also play a part.

However, we also identified a range of sectors of Mombasa’s economy that have the potential to expand and create jobs. They include agriculture and agri-processing, construction, tourism, micro trade and retail, fisheries, export processing zones and waste management and recycling.

In support of the priorities of the national and county government, we recommended that DFID firstly improve the human capital of young people from low-skilled and low-income backgrounds with an integrated training and apprenticeship programme, including adult learning, vocational, entrepreneurship and life skills, and work experience.

Secondly, we recommended that DFID’s programme of activities should promote skills and market development in growing sectors via the creation of public-private partnerships in vocational training, value chain development, and the launch of job search centres.

Thirdly, we suggested that DFID encourage the government, academic and private sector to have an impact on youth employment via best practice strategies, policies and incentives.

These measures will help Mombasa’s youth find employment, directly benefiting individuals, but also stimulating Mombasa’s economy for the future.

“Market access should be engrained in the education system, useful skills in technical areas, business and life, as well as traditional academic ability. This can provide influence and employment.”

Hon. Lewa Tendai Mtana, Education Secretary, Mombasa County

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