Creating a conducive environment for the Zambian Youths
1. Zambian youth policy unlike, youth policies from other countries lack cohesion with other national business opportunities that do exist not only for the youth but for all entrepreneurial minded Zambians. It lacks visionary direction and clear implementation plan that favors youth participation in propelling the country forward through their contributions. To substantiate this let us look at how the current business policy frameworks empowers any other person in the country who might have first spent their youthfulness and accumulated enough to prove to the world that they have the muscle to do business and please not the current youth. 2. First of all, we look at the strategic economic policy direction on which the current government is driving our economic agenda, as one that prioritize programs run under the private public partnership initiative. In this initiative there are no clear deliberate plans of incorporating the youth and protect them from the untold competition that exclude them from participating under this window. Under this initiative surely potential youths have been left out simply because they can not raise the needed threshold amount to partner with the foreign investor involved say in the construction or mining industry period. 3. Second point is the much talked about lowering of inflation through high rendering rates by the financing institutions, floating exchange rates and the un favorable tax systems with a sole reason of reducing the amount of money in circulation. All these are some of the reasons that clearly put the young people out of business believe it or not. This is because the little the youth makes is mopped out by the tax collected and yet the foreign investors enjoy tax havens. How do you expect the youth to compete favorable or enjoy the atmosphere to flourish in the entrepreneurial endeavorance? 4. On the other hand, the alignment of institutions that promotes the welfare of the young people is another reason that even worsens the already fragmented and unfavorable youth policies. How do you have Ministry of Technical and Vocation dealing with promoting technical education and technical related entrepreneurial activities, you have the Ministry of sport and child development on the other hand to deal with issues of empowerment and any related funding for the youth and Ministry of education, to deal with all education requirements of the youth in a different locality. This alignment comes with all sorts of institutional bureaucracy that will hinder young people from accessing any one of the opportunities that exists. For me what is prudent is to establish a one stock shop that will handle issues of the young people period. Whether business, welfare, education or technical development they should be placed in one spot. 5. The other reason is the structure of the Zambian education curriculum which does not take issues of entrepreneurship into account. When a Zambian youth graduate from college or University even from those institutions that are directly under Ministry of Vocational and Technical Sciences are told to go and look for a job than establishing companies that will create employment in return. Thus, when some one subscribes to the assertion that there has been a conducive environment in Zambia on the youth participation in the creation of employment at that level, it is only a dream that still remains to be realized. 6. The other point is the current empowerment opportunities that are available for the Zambian people with entrepreneurial minds besides the financing institutions that exist in the country. These include but not restricted to (a.) Citizen Economic Empowerment Funds under the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission, (b) the Social Cash transfer, (c) Fertilizer Support program, among others does not state how budgetary allocation in terms of percentage from these facilities will go to the Young people. Hence when these facilities are discharging their duties do not put in measures or mechanisms to monitor how many young people have been empowered in each reporting period. This has always resulted in the young people being marginalized and under funded and consequently under represented. It is how ever appreciating (though not enough) that this has been realized by the authorities involved hence the reallocation of the Youth empowerment Fund to another Youth related ministry. 7. A lot of young people in Zambia with brilliant ideas are suffering simply because they can not access capital for their good project that can benefit the country. They are stark with their God given talent that can see them out of poverty. Mr Shamilimo is one fortunate young entrepreneurial minded man that was stark in Kafue with his invention and efforts were made from our end to have his invention funded but to no avail until we took him to the Show where some officials from TDAU under University of Zambia identified him. Today shimalimo’s invention is under the University of Zambia and the Young man can’t realize anything until the so called scientific trials are concluded. This posses a challenge to many Zambian youths who think Shimalimo, may lose out as the University officials may commercialize his invention claim owner after the so called scientific trials. How many of young people that are in the street that have ideas like shamilimo and they do not know where to go? Ok enough on this… 8. Lastly but not the least is the issue of good policies that our fathers have put in place that are not only good but also inspiring on principle and face value. These include among them the just concluded Fifth National Development Plan which showed inspiring milestones and targets on the youth projects and programs. If any Zambian can audit the published midterm evaluation report published in 2008,would agree with me that they are only a handful that were implemented and those implemented were politically motivated… Is this what you call conducive environment? The current SME policy enacted recently does not also spell out how young people will be protected from being overshadowed by other genuine competing social groupings like the already advantaged senior citizens in society? It is only rather this year in February that we saw a number of young people being fortunate and be given some attention by both the minister of Commerce Trade and Industry ,and the President…May be because this is an election year so …. I can go on and on discussing this matter which I passionately find interesting at all times. 9. In conclusion, we need to do a lot of advocacy work and lobbying so that Zambian youth can be empowered and ultimately create employment in this country. Many of us know for sure that the current employment levels cannot absorb all the young people thus the need to engage them in creating the much needed employment. MDG advocators have already realized that poverty fight will never be won without adding one performance indicators on youth and job creation. For me this is one sure way of attaining the just much desired world the Zambia we want.