Ideation I: Innovative use of data to address corruption and safeguard the future of work for the  Youth

Data is the lifeblood of decision making and a necessary tool for accountability and transparency. It is the pre-requisite for any development in a democracy and in ensuring that no one is left behind. One of the benefits of data is that it opens up the government to the people. With open data, the government becomes more transparent and accountable, allows scrutiny by the public and also reduces opportunities for corruption and increases chances for detection. This, therefore, makes open data a critical ingredient in accountability interventions and also reduce the mismanagement and misallocation of resources.

Corruption is a complex problem and it can societies and result in increased poverty, undermine economic growth and even reduce employment opportunities for the youth. As technology advances, the methods of the corrupt are also getting more sophisticated. Open data offers numerous ways to fight corruption by providing information and empowering citizens to be key actors in driving anti-corruption.

Data in addressing Corruption

If data is open, and especially if it is big, it can be analyzed to uncover, prevent and deter corruption. Data scientists are joining forces with anti-corruption activities to develop tech-savvy applications and deploy powerful anti-corruption analytics (World Economic Forum). Platforms like Usajili provide an open Beneficial Ownership Registry Portal, which holds data on past and existing tenders awarded by the Government and linking them to the respective companies awarded whose ownership/directorship shall be made open to public scrutiny. This is geared towards unmasking corruption in the government agencies by exposing the beneficial owners of contracted companies. Beneficial ownership is a term that refers to anyone who enjoys the benefits of ownership of a security or property, without being on the record as being the owner.

If data is open, and especially if it is big, it can be analyzed to uncover, prevent and deter corruption.

Public procurement in Kenya and the world at large plays an important role in the economic development of any country. It is the implementation vehicle by which service delivery is achieved. Due to the huge financial flows involved in public procurement, the sector is the most prone to corruption. Major corruption scandals in Kenya have revolved around public procurement. Billions of shillings have been lost through under deals in procurement which takes years to trace and recover. While corruption is one type of fraud, there is a big difference between more traditional fraud and corruption in that corruption involves the payment of monies stolen from a company, through a variety of mechanisms such as shell companies. A shell company is, by design, created to hide the true or ultimate beneficial ownership of the individuals who are the final beneficiaries of the corporate structure. Shell companies that cannot be traced back to their owners are one of the most important mechanisms by which corrupt officials transfer illicit wealth from public coffers. This process damages these countries’ development prospects. Usajili, in essence, focusses on improving transparency by sharing information about companies being awarded contracts in order to prevent fraud and corruption

Corruption and Youth Unemployment

Corruption causes lost employment opportunities for the youth, it is against employment as it causes unfair recruitment process, favoritism and bribe. Those in power misuse their authority and give jobs to their dear ones rendering many young people jobless. The higher the number of corruption cases in an economy, the higher the unemployment rate.

What happens to this youth, who is denied an opportunity to pursue his dream of a better life by a selfish individual who out of sheer greed, decided to engage in acts of corruption?

Aside from corruption, there is a huge disparity between the Education System and the skills required in the industry have greatly contributed to the whole unemployment menace in the country today. Despite the recent change in the education curriculum, there are still fundamental issues that haven’t been sorted and that continue to fuel this problem. For instance over-emphasis on formal education, resulting in too many educated-unskilled people in the market as they cannot be absorbed into the economy that is looking to industrialize.

The situation worsens as even the government projects such as NYS and KKV are not lucrative enough to the graduates and they, therefore, remain unemployed or forced to work on projects that are not in-line with what they studied. The government projects which are supposed to address the youth employment issue are also marred with corruption

Youth employment is also affected by the impact of technological change on the future of work which differs across emerging markets and developing economies depending on demographic trends. For training programs to be effective, hard skills training needs to be combined with life and employability skills training, and on-the-job experience. Although youth unemployment is probably the most visible aspect of the current youth employment crisis, the challenge for the majority of youth in developing countries is to improve the quality of employment rather than the quantity. With poverty reduction as the principal objective, policies need to have a specific focus on the most vulnerable groups of youth in low-income countries.

The key weapon in the fight against corruption and secure the future of work is the widespread adoption of technology accompanied by a culture of full disclosure and openness (Open data). Together, we can work towards building the corruption-free nation that we all aspire to be proudly part of and let us remember that for nothing is beyond our capability if we put our minds and resources to it.