Last week, the Ministry of ICT in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs launched the Ajira Digital Program. The program is a multi-sectoral government initiative that aims to introduce young people to online work by providing them with tools, training and mentorship to work and earn an income through online work. The program was hoping to enable over one million young Kenyans to access online jobs over the next one year. As part of the project, the Ajira Digital has recruited 150 youth officers from all the 47 counties who will sensitise those in counties about online job opportunities.
A petition has now launched on Change.org seeking to have the government take down the Ajira Digital website. The petition reads :
The Bulk of online work is created by companies based in the largest economies in the world. But most of the work is completed by people living in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Already thousands of Kenyans participate. The government through consultation with freelancers who barely know nothing about the online work and how it operates have decided to come up with a misleading website that purports to help unemployed Kenyans get work online. the information and links displayed on the website are completely misleading and can barely help any newbie who wants to Start an online work career.
At the centre of the petition are views by freelancers that government intervention in the space will ruin an already free market, which already has established online work sites. They question how the government will ensure a steady flow of work and state that the project does not consider all forms of online work such as graphics design. Others are also questioning if this is a ploy by the government to tax the millions of dollars generated each year by online work. The petition then urges the government to pull down the website and instead concentrate on creating meaningful jobs for Kenyan youth.