Kenya: Quest for an Inclusive Society Must Continue

For the first time, the most dominant group – socially and politically – is not poor uneducated rural farmers.

It is the youth. They are young, creative and aspirational.

Relative to their parents, they are better educated. However, unlike their parents, they are coming of age when rapid economic growth is characterized by fewer opportunities for decent work.

For example, about 1 million young men and women enter Kenya’s labor market annually. But the economy generates less than 60,000 jobs in the formal sector.

– Dr. Awiti, Director, East African Institute & Assistant Professor, Aga Khan University

Dr. Awiti, Director, East African Institute & Assistant Professor, Aga Khan University
Dr. Awiti, Director, East African Institute & Assistant Professor, Aga Khan University

By Alex O. Awiti. Published Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As the curtain falls on 2014, our thoughts are filled with both sweet and not so sweet memories. Individuals, communities and nations have experienced mirth and grief, hope and despair, triumph and tribulation.

Some of these experiences will be etched forever, in our hearts and minds; the stuff from which legend, myth, superstition, wisdom and history are crafted.

Evidently, breathtaking transformation is underway in our families and communities, in our nation and in our region, in our continent and in our world.

The youth bulge, rapid urbanization, economic growth and declining per capita productivity in the smallholder farm, have precipitated monumental transformation, especially in our country and in the East African region. These changes are perhaps inevitable but they are unprecedented. Of graver concern is how these transformations will affect the socioeconomic and political equilibrium in our country and region.

As a public intellectual, with the privilege of studying, thinking and reflecting, I grapple with urgent and pressing issues of our time.

I am mindful that that my efforts are both imperfect and incomplete.

Such incompleteness and imperfection provides the essential scaffolding for continuing in 2015, the urgent and collective task of building a just and inclusive society.

I am eternally grateful for your readership in 2014. I wish you much happiness in 2015.

– Dr. Awiti, Director, East African Institute & Assistant Professor, Aga Khan University

Discover, Explore and Learn more at All Africa | Kenya: Quest for an Inclusive Society Must Continue

About Alex O. Awiti

Alex O. Awiti is the Director of the East African Institute, a policy research, analysis, capacity building and public engagement platform of the Aga Khan University. As an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he also leads the curriculum design for one of the most innovative liberal arts based undergraduate programmes in Africa

Prior to joining the Aga Khan University, Awiti was a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Awiti is the Africa editor for Environmental Development, the Transdisciplinary Journal of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE). As public intellectual he writes a widely read weekly column for The Star, a Kenyan daily.

His research focuses on education, conservation, agriculture and food systems, population health, climate change, urbanization and natural resource governance.

As one of very few resilience experts in Africa, Awiti sits on the Board of the Resilience Alliance (, a research organization comprised of international interdisciplinary scholars, including Nobel laureates.

As a public intellectual, Awiti maintains an active blog ( and writes regular op-eds for leading East African newspapers. He was one of the speakers at TEDx Nairobi 2013.

Mr. Awiti holds a PhD in Ecosystems Ecology from University of Nairobi and is an alumnus of the prestigious Earth Institute Fellowship of Columbia University in New York.


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