A few years ago the President launched a Youth Empowerment Strategy targeting 1 million jobs. This came at a time we already had a Youth Development Fund. The fact that today he is launching a similar initiative simply means the past initiatives have not given us the desired results.
2) ANALYSIS OF YOUTH EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVES
The question is what exactly went wrong with the all these initiatives? To answer this question I will refer to a study conducted by ZIPAR on the performance of the Youth Development Fund. According to this study, between 2011 and 2014 Zambia disbursed over ZMW 40 million to 1278 youth beneficiaries under the Youth Development Fund. The loans had a 5% interest rate with a maximum repayment period of 36 months. No collateral was required. After getting the loans, some beneficiaries ended up buying cars, partying and doing other things not related to their business proposals. This coupled with adverse economic conditions led to a very low loan recovery rate of 16%.
It is clear that because there is a thin line between the party and government youths supporting the ruling party are better placed to access any empowerment funds administered by government or any institution attached to government. Because of the politics involved, youths see these funds as grants and not loans. There is also a high possibility of senior officials hiding behind youths to access these funds. Overall, there is weak screening of beneficiaries, lack of monitoring and technical support. Given this background, I would recommend the following:
I) ALLOCATION TO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FUND.
Increase annual allocation to youth development fund to at least USD100 million per year for 5 years and thereafter let it run using funds being collected from repayments.
II) MANAGEMENT OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FUND.
It is clear that government cannot effectively manage this fund. Therefore, government should contract a very strong and reputable private firm (Fund Manager) to administer and manage the fund, maintaining the same low interest rates. Though this would come at a cost, it would guarantee a high level of success. Under this arrangement, recipients should be selected on merit by this independent fund manager. The arrangement should aslo be such that loan recipients (entrepreneurs) are only allowed to fully own the enterprises once the loan is fully paid. Before the loan is fully settled, the enterprises should be jointly owned by the fund manager on behalf of government and the recipients. No expenditure should be made without authorisation from the fund manager. During this process the entrepreneurs should undergo training in entrepreneurship and business management.
III) BUSINESS MODEL
The business model should be built around complete value chains. What this means is that supply and demand should be created and satisfied within the business model before looking outside. The value chains should be predesigned by experts so that loan applicants select which value chains to apply for and the specific level of their preferred value chain they wish to participate in. All levels of the value chains should be supported. Each level should feed into the next level thereby creating ready market within the empowerment scheme. Since the loans are gotten at 5% interest, there is room to set the prices of products slightly lower than the prevailing market prices so as to attract customers outside the scheme. Provide tax incentives to recognised retail outlets so that they sign supply agreements with entrepreneurs thereby providing ready market for their final products.
Some examples of value chains with their levels are listed below:
●》Poultry Value Chain: Feed Production & Chemicals Outlets—> Poultry Farmers—>Recognised Retail Outlets.
●》Horticulture Value Chain: Inputs, Equipment & Chemicals Outlets—> Greenhouses/Seedling Growers —> Horticulture Production—Food Processing & Packaging —> Recognised Retail Outlets.
●》 Dairy Value Chain: Feed Production & Chemicals outlets—> Dairy farming & Milk Bulking—> Processing & Production of Dairy Products—> Recognised Retail Outlets.
●》Meat Value Chain: Livestock Feed Production & Chemicals Outlets —> Livestock Production—> Recognised Livestock Outlets
●》Gemstones Value Chain: Small Scale Gemstone Mining and Sorting—>Trading/Gemstone Auction—>Cutting and Polishing—> Jewellery Manufacturing —> Recognised Jewellery Retail Outlets.
●》Steel & Iron Value Chain: Small Scale Mining —> Processing/Smelting & Refining —> Semi Fabrication—> Final Product Manufacturing—> Recognised Retail Outlets.
In conclusion, all economic empowerment funds should be administered the same way. With the right investments, strong implementation, stable policies and improved transparency and accountability, this can be a game changer for Zambia. Ethiopia has in the past few years invested USD 1.3 billion in five industrial parks, each costing above USD 200 million. It is targeting to spend $3b in 10 industrial parks. Zambia on the other hand is constructing 8 industrial yards with each yard costing around $2m which is less than $20m for all the 8 yards. Hence we need to rethink our priorities if we really want to expand exports, create meaningful economic opportunities.
[10:54, 15/08/2020] Joan Post: Zambian Woman Brutally Beaten In Germany By Fiance Who Later Jumped To His Death
Zambia’s Ambassador to Germany, His Excellency, Mr. Anthony Mukwita has expressed grave sadness at the brutal beating of 39 year-old German-based Zambian Musician Cassy Nyemba by her 60-year-old fiancé who has since died after he allegedly jumped from the 13th floor of an apartment building in which the couple lived.
Ambassador Mukwita said the violent attack against a defenseless woman has left him shell-shocked as gory details of how Nyemba escaped her attacker’s attempt to strangle her to death in her sleep around 9hrs on Monday morning emerged.
Reports under police investigation indicate that Nyemba’s fiancé initially used a rope and tied it around her neck and began to violently squeeze it with the apparent aim to kill her. He then used a pillow to suffocate her but failing, he attempted to reach for a knife which gave Nyemba a slight chance at escaping. The balcony was the only available option.
Eyewitness accounts report that Nyemba jumped from the second floor or 9 meters down and lay motionless on the ground as neighbors called for an ambulance. As the medics were attending to her, a man, later identified as Nyemba’s fiance, fell down from the 13th floor of the apartment building and died instantly.
Local media reports that did not name Nyemba or her fiance’ indicate that the man apparently took his own life believing that he had caused her death, first secretary press at the Zambian mission in Berlin, Kellys Kaunda, has stated.
It is not yet known what could have triggered the entire tragic episode. Police are investigating the matter and have since called on anyone with any information that could assist with investigations to step forward.
After medical examination, it was revealed that Nyemba is three months pregnant, has had three of her ribs broken, sustained serious damage to the spinal code, lost some fingers, and suffered serious injuries around her waist. Further medical tests are scheduled Monday next week. Indications are that Nyemba’s recovery is likely to be long requiring assistance from family and friends.
Ambassador Mukwita said such a brutal attack on a woman happening in one of the most developed parts of the world is totally unacceptable.
He has called on the German government to do more to protect women beyond the efforts of law enforcement officials.
“Yes we appreciate the role of law enforcement but it is too late because the damage has already been inflicted,” Ambassador Mukwita said.
He added, “more intervention at public awareness, policy or legislative levels needs to be done to prevent such forms of brutality from happening”.
Hardly a month ago, another Zambian woman died but was quickly cremated without the presence of her relatives, a development that did not go down well among some friends and family members.
“As an envoy responsible for the wellbeing and welfare of Zambians here in Germany and six other countries of extra accreditation, I get concerned and deeply worried when I hear of harrowing and near-death experiences especially of women who are more vulnerable than their male counterparts,” said Ambassador Mukwita.
The Zambian senior diplomat observed that at a time when the world has made significant achievements in securing the fundamental rights of women, it is heartbreaking to hear of stories that suggest that more work beyond policing and mere accession to international human rights instruments needs to be done extending into local communities.