The unemployed making a living on the streets of Lusaka

By Mwansa P. Chalwe Snr

This article is a follow up on my previous one that dealt with the issue of why the Youth Development Funds (YDF failed to create jobs. I promised to provide practical solutions to the issue of creating jobs for the youth through short term and long term interventions using existing government youth policies. The Youth policies are great on paper but how to implement them seems to be a problem.

In August 2015, President Edgar Lungu launched the 2015 National Youth Policy and the Action Plan for “Youth Empowerment and Employment”. The Policy according to the President was supposed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for the Youth.

“The plan I am launching today must result in the creation of more than five hundred thousand (500 000) jobs for the youth by the end of 2016, through the implementation of the following: The national apprenticeship and internship schemes, expansion of low interest credit facilities and provision of ongoing business support services including mentorship to youth-led businesses”, the President announced.

Lack of action irks President Lungu

However, four years down the line, this has clearly not happened as confirmed by President Lungu himself. In March, 2019, when opening the Central Province Patriotic Front Conference, President Lungu sounded a warning to relevant bodies created to promote youth entrepreneurship against the prevailing Laissez-faire attitude. He said that Youth Entrepreneurship was at the core of his heart and vision for industrialization. He warned that next time, he will either be reshuffling or firing people. He directed that drastic measures to trigger more young entrepreneurs to emerge and existing ones be boosted needed to be implemented immediately.

Further, on July 22, 2019, when swearing in Mr. Emmanuel Mulenga, the new Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, the President directed Mr. Mulenga to expedite the full implementation of the 2015 National Youth Policy and action.

“As you take up the office you will be required to ensure that our commitment to the youth is fully implemented to meet their aspirations irrespective of where they are”, President Lungu directed the new minister.

On the basis of the President’s statement, it is clear that the line Ministry has failed to implement the policy, possibly due to lack of ideas on how to roll it out in practice. The Ministry of Youth and Sport, therefore, may need some help in terms of ideas. The issue of lack of funds does not apply to this Ministry as the Skills Development Fund is awash with cash and there are many donors available ready and willing to pour in millions of dollars to fund viable Youth empowerment projects as long as there is accountability.

Proposed solutions to implement Youth Policy in the short term

My proposed solution will mainly focus on the promotion of Entrepreneurship and Self-employment component of the National Youth Policy. This is the most effective initiative for sustainable job creation rather than the national apprenticeship and internship schemes. The solution is recognized by International Labour organisation (ILO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD), Africa Development Bank, Economic Commission for Africa, World Bank and others. But what has been lacking are the tools and vehicles to roll it out in terms of practical implementation.

In general , in order for a programme promoting youth employment creation through Entrepreneurship and Self-employment to work, it has to be a merit based comprehensive programme, devoid of political interference and should have a mix of financial and non-financial support as well as have the full involvement of private sector. In addition, there should be some form of focus on the informal sector. Youth empowerment programmes have partly failed due to the exclusion of the informal sector who make up millions of the underemployed youth as informal sector is largely survival employment.

In the short term, the starting point in the implementation of the 2015 National Youth Policy, is by using the already existing vehicles and improving on them. In this case, the improvement of the design of the Youth Development Fund (YDF) by making changes and transforming it into being merit based should be the top priority. The 2017/8 study and evaluation of the programme done by the Zambia Institute for Policy analysis and Research(ZIPAR) in 2018,clearly concluded that the programme had failed to achieve its objectives and needed to be redesigned.(ZIPAR Report is available on the internet)

There are number of critical changes that should be made to the current Youth Development Fund (YDF). The first change should be, the rebranding of the Fund by changing the name to Youth Development Programme (YDP). It is crucial that the current negative public perception of the Fund is changed by changing the name. The name change should be accompanied by other changes outlined below.

The additional changes should include the following: outsourcing the management of the fund, disbursement of loans being conditioned on the acquisition of basic business development services skills, targeting funding to sectors with the greatest potential to create jobs( agriculture, tourism, small scale manufacturing, small scale mining and construction),targeting the informal sector/ street venders (skilled venders like welders, electricians, bricklayers, plumbers, welders, skilled youth farmers etc) to formalize and expand their operations in order to create additional jobs. The Fund should also increase the current limit of loans. There is also a need to depoliticizing youth empowerment programmes and making them merit based and independently managed which is my view is politically smart.

An effective communication strategy including using digital tools so that information dissemination to youth reach them in all ten provinces is an absolute necessity. The President could then re-launch the Programme empathising the difference between the new programme and the old Fund so that public’s negative perception is changed and the Youth buy into it.

In practical terms, in order to kick start the reforms, the first step the Ministry of Youth , Sports and Child development should do is to immediately advertise and request for proposals from Zambian owned micro finance companies for the management of the actual Fund under the newly branded Youth Development Programme (YDP).

In addition to outsourcing Fund management, the Ministry should also invite private sector institutions to present proposals for the provision practical user friendly business development training, mentoring and advisory services which should be a prerequisite to accessing finance from the microcredit scheme. The above proposals can be implemented within a period of twelve months if people charged with these responsibilities are serious.

Medium to Long term interventions

In order to make the above short term proposals permanent and include other youth employment related interventions not covered above, there is a need for a vehicle to facilitate this. In the medium to long term, the implementation of the National Youth policy for youth empowerment and employment, should be the design of a tripartite five year multimillion dollar Youth Development Promotion Project. The project should involve the Government, some cooperating partner(s) and the national private sector representative, Zambia Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) as the secretariat.

The project should be able to address the current ongoing fragmentation of efforts. There is a variety of ministries, organisations directly and indirectly that deal with youth employment which leads to a lack of coordination amongst actors and hampers overall effectiveness of interventions. The project should also address the issue of insufficient consultation with and engagement of the private sector. The private sector is an essential stakeholder in addressing youth unemployment, not only as the engine of job creation but also as a potential partner to implement complex interventions alongside government and civil society actors.

The issue of provision or creation of a market for Youth entrepreneurs’ products and services is also an important matter that needs to be addressed by such a project. Business linkages with the mines, the supermarket chains, international construction companies and other multinationals who are importing millions if not billions of goods from outside which in reality constitutes the export of youth jobs, needs to be formalized. There are many items which Youth entrepreneurs can be organized and facilitated to produce and have a ready market for. This is not rocket science. It just needs political will.

The project’s ultimate objective, however, should be the formation a quasi-government full time institution as a special purpose vehicle(SPV) to oversee all Youth development issues. The institution formed should be able to house the following services/divisions: Virtual Business incubation (VBI) to promote starts ups and innovations, Digital Job Centre (DJC), Youth Employment Services (YES), Business development services (BDS), Funding issues and lastly, Strategic Partners Coordination (SPC) in terms of the private sector, education institutions and cooperating partners.

To conclude, policy makers and implementers ought to understand that in the 21st Century, solutions to problems have to incorporate knowledge and information and communication technology tools to be effective; and Youth unemployment is not an exception especially that Youth are addicted to mobile technology.

The details of the proposals outlined above are beyond the scope of this article. In my next article, I will demonstrate how the graduation of Skilled Venders to the formal sector can fast track youth job creation.

The Author is a former financial specialist advisor to the multimillion dollar USAID funded Botswana Private Enterprise Development Project (BPED) and the founder of Prosper Knowledge Solutions. He has passion for solving the Youth unemployment problem using his vast hands on local and international private sector experience. (Send comments and suggestions on this article to pmchalweATgmailDOTcom)

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14 COMMENTS

    • Why would anyone be surprised that it has yielded ZERO fruit?
      1. The man has no vision
      2. The man is lazy
      3. The man is incompetent
      4. The man is corrupt
      5. The very fact that he keeps sounding “warnings” and issuing “directives” every week, shows he is weak and no one takes him serious it. Ni ba kuwe!
      6. The man has no idea what he is doing! How can the president be running around commissioning “commissioning” silly projects? Even toilets?
      7. He is all talk. There is NOTHING relevant or progressive that he has done in his life. How can you expect such a dismal failure in life to achieve anything for the country. If you cant run your own life how can you run a nation?
      So, here is a man who was such a failure and lacking ideas to make money that he was debarred by LAZ fot…

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    • I mean lool at the people he appoints. Who appoints such a vile person as mumbi phiri? She is so depraved. Her mouth runs like a sewer. spewing out filth and scum! Or look at Eddy Chomba, a so called reverend. No ideas, incompetent and getting free money. What about that petson on this blog who has a position in foreign service in USA? Just spews out the same blank statement. Cant even make a political aregument. A grade one makes more sense. Even a dog barks differently on different occasions! But this person vomits the same the same stale nonsense EVERY single time they post.
      The only person I know for sure is competent in his cabinet is bwalya ngandu.

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    • I don’t know if the author is aware of what currently is happening. The author is stuck in traditional thinking.
      The biggest reason we have unemployment is CORRUPTION. Corruption has led to lack of PROGRESS and the reason for lack of progress is IGNORANCE like the author is exhibiting – no offence.

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    • This policy was announced prior to elections.

      Now Lungu is regurgitating the same announcements as we approach 2021.

      Ask yourself this: how many of the policies announced in 2015 have been implemented yet?

      20% contracts to locals? NO.

      More jobs for youths? NO.

      More money in your pockets? NO.

      Lusaka-Ndola dual carriage way? NO.

      Zambia Airways? NO.

      Austerity measures? NO.

      Firing of corrupt officials? NO.

      Investigations into Kamwala market fires? NO.

      The list continues. And it is a long list.

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  1. why is it that everytime I hear youth empowerment , my mind draws me to those Higer bus loans, of late I dont see those buses on the roads, what happened, anyone why data?

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  2. How do you create youth jobs without electricity?

    Ok. The author doesn’t see the answer because he’s in the dark.

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  3. The problem with people who shun away from the National day of prayer and fasting are stubbon and this is how far they can think all the time. As Alangizi we are wondering that he has come back after the prayers, really? And instead of appreciating the First Lady for what she done, he is there critisizing the efforts being done. Does he have a company which makes vehicles so that he can donate? this man so called HH, is behaving like a rat which has seen a cat and runs away. Country men and women he ran away from prayers and after the prayers he is back on the scene and yapping nonsense. Shame and fire on him.
    From: Alangizi Ba Chitukuko and Moral Clarity Team

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    • “…..And instead of appreciating the First Lady for what she done, …”

      She spent $1 million on that trip to go and recive trucks worth $5000 ,

      That $995,000 could have created 200 permanent youth jobs

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  4. The writer would have done well and received full marks if it was given as a theoretical answer to an exam question. However has the writer done a thorough research as this writing fails to cater for youths in rural set ups unable to get the much needed skills training, sensitization to encourage youths to participate in these programs have been minuscule if not zero. What pilot project or research exercise can the writer site as a benchmark indicator for the success of what he is proposing?. Given the current conditions of our economy how feasible and tenable are these ideas and in what time frame?. The political parties and government as well are the ones destroying the youth of today by using them as tools of violence to gain political will, rather than engage the youth in well meaning…

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  5. Continued: well meaning programs to help secure good futures. Resources have been misused by engaging in useless by-elections for almost another full term of PF in government. Real employment is not for a youth to be employed in a project that lasts six months or year then thereafter no more job, employment is ensuring our youths are well equipped with skills to transform what they have learned into tangible undertakings of their own spured by a well managed and maintained economy. If well managed and engaged I think youths are a powerful resource to boost economic activity in a country. Youths have the zeal, will and energy a good government will channel that positive ability to help youths realize their potential rather than for selfish political ambitions of those seeking power.

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  6. You can’t create youth jobs by throwing money at youth or bribing them with slush funds…….

    You need solid industries as a base to have any chance of permanent youth employment ……

    And to have solid industries , you need leadership with vision…..

    Some pompwes thought seasonal labour jobs when building roads is youth employment……..they did not think what happens after the roads are built , where will those youth go ?????

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  7. Which youth? I saw more youth in Mugabe even unto his demise than i do in most of these hoards of drunken masters and walking sticks hanging out in denial. Yes we have youths and they don’t need any artificial creation. They go to school and simply come out to get what they want out of life. Talk of mainstreaming this concept to give it some direction

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  8. Dear
    Frinds this is subarna mandal(india)we are safar indian laber low.was very poor time now.will we discation of indian laber low.plz servay to haryana(faridabad)new delhi(okhla phase-1&2)uttar pradesh(ghazyabad)

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