Revealed: How Kenya ethnic groups share public jobs

Public Service Commission chairperson Margaret Kobia

Public Service Commission chairperson Margaret Kobia

The Civil Service is dominated by four communities who take up more than half of all the jobs, a new government report has revealed.

Members of the Kikuyu community lead the pack, followed by their counterparts from the Kalenjin, Luhya and Kamba communities. Together, they control 58 per cent of the workforce in government ministries, departments and agencies.

However, the report, dated December 2014, says that new appointments in the last financial year were done in a manner that ensured ethnic balance. The report was the product of a survey conducted in 168 agencies with a workforce of 94,286.

“Ethnicity is normally one of the criteria we use when hiring. We want to ensure that all communities are fairly represented,” Prof Margaret Kobia, the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, told Nation in a telephone interview.

Prof Kobia said the report will give the Public Service Commission baseline guidelines that will help it to reduce the gaps to ensure that the public service has a national face.
“We can see the gains we have made in reducing the gap in ethnic representation,” she said.

The report is the first informed by research and will be useful to scholars, public servants and Kenyans who want to understand the civil service.

It reveals that members of the Kikuyu community had the highest number of employees at 21,567, accounting for 22.9 per cent of the total workforce.

Although there are about six million people from the community — who form 17 per cent of Kenya’s population according to the 2009 census figures — the study said the community was over-represented by 5.5 per cent. Members of the Kalenjin community, who have 12,082 jobs in the surveyed departments, were also over-represented by 1.57 per cent. They form 12.8 per cent of total government workforce.

The Luhya community was third with 11,487 civil servants, representing 12.2 per cent of the workforce. Although it was one of the communities with the highest number of workers in government, it was, however, under-represented by 1.78 per cent based on its members’ proportion to the national population, which stands at 14 per cent.

The report ranked the Kamba community fourth, with 1,0321 employees. This translated to an over-representation of 0.76 per cent.


Capture“Taking the size of Kenya’s ethnic groups in the national population into account, the Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Kisii and Embu have a fairly large representation relative to their population,” it says.
Prof Kobia attributed the trend to tribalism and historical reasons, but said the government had put in place measures to ensure the public service reflects the face of Kenya.

In the 2013/2014 financial year, 2,211 people were employed in various government agencies. Of these, 1,424 were male while 787 were female.

Whereas this met the one-third gender requirement, individuals from the Kalenjin community secured 454 government jobs followed by those from the Kikuyu community who got 412, 404 from the Luhya and 381 from the Luo communities. The Kamba and Kisii communities had more than 100 people hired with 161 and 145 respectively.

Education, according to the report, was one of the factors that continue to lock out minorities from civil service jobs.

“It should be noted that employment is a function of, among other factors, skill, knowledge and literacy, which, in progression towards compliance, will slow down equal representation among the minorities unless they improve their low literacy skills,” the report said.

According to the data, the Somali community has the highest deficit in the public service at 4.4 per cent followed by the Turkana at 2.2 per cent and the Luhya at 1.8 per cent. There are 1,751 government workers of Somali origin in the civil service and 384 from the Turkana community.

Others who are under-represented include the Meru with a workforce of 3,815 which translated to an under-representation of 0.29 per cent.


The Mijikenda community has a workforce of 5,823 while the Swahili community has only 448 employees in various government agencies.

According to the findings, five communities are not represented at all while three have less than 20 employees. Those not represented are Galla with a population of 8,146, Konso (1,758), Galjeel (7,553), Leysan (5,941) and Kenyan Americans (2,422).

The El Molo community, which is at risk of extinction, has five employees. The community has a total of 2,844 members nationally.

The Borana Community has a workforce of 973 out of the 161,399 people.

Only one Kenyan European out of the 5,166 people from the community is in the civil service.

According to the 2009 census, the Kikuyu community is the most populous with 6.62 million people while the Luhya are second with 5.33 million followed by the Kalenjin with 4.3 million.

In 2011, a report by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission on ethnicity in the public service revealed that five communities — Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Luhya, Kamba and Luo — commanded about 70 per cent of the total workforce.

The Kikuyu community led with 22.3 per cent while Kalenjin followed with 16.7 per cent, Luhya 11.3 per cent and Kamba 9.7 per cent.

Persons with disabilities are 1 per cent of workforce

Only a mere one per cent of people with disabilities are in government, which is way below the threshold set by the Constitution.

This translates to some 1,082 people out of a workforce of 106,724 in government ministries, departments and agencies, a government report says.

According to the document by the Public Service Commission, only 31 people with disabilities were employed out of 2,211 new appointments in the last financial year.

“Comparatively, this proportion does not meet the threshold of five per cent representation as required by the Constitution,” the report dubbed Evaluation Report on Public Service Compliance with Values and Principles in Articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution says.

However, the government made significant gains in ensuring that gender representation in the Civil Service meets the constitutional threshold.

Unlike in 2013 when the number of females in the service did not meet the threshold, last year the percentage rose to 36 per cent.

Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia said the two-thirds requirement had been met.


“However, this does not mean that we shall now not employ women. PSC will continue to employ individuals of either gender based on competencies and experience. What I can assure is that the two thirds will always be adhered to,” Prof Kobia said.

In terms of compliance and declaration of income, assets and liabilities, 7,932 officers working in state corporations and other government agencies, and 6,334 in ministries and departments did not comply.

In terms of age, the report indicates that 56 per cent of the public servants are below 45 years. Those in the 35-39 age bracket are the highest at 25 per cent.

Those over 60 years and those below 24 years account to one per cent of the total workforce.

“Thus, notwithstanding the frequent freezes on employment in the wider Public Service, the age profile of the workforce would still leave room for effective succession management plans across most segments of the service,” the report says.

The findings also indicate that the number of employees who were trained on ethics was low and would not be sufficient to keep the debate on ethics alive in the service.

“The findings obtained regarding the levels of training on ethics indicate that MDAs on their own trained 9,415 of the total 106,724 officers,” the report read. Only 32 of the entire 249 MDAs had carried out corruption perception index rating.



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