Zambia: Why Youth Development Fund has failed to create jobs and changes needed

“The evaluation found that the YDF created a total of 742 paid jobs from 2011 to 2015.The involvement of politicians in the disbursement of funds has negatively influenced the public perception of the Fund and its potential as a youth economic empowerment vehicle. The Fund is highly linked to the political structures” (ZIPAR)

The 2020 Budget presented by Minister of Finance, Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu on September, 27, 2019 did not cover the issue of Youth unemployment comprehensively as one would have expected. There were a few theoretical and cavalier sentences in budget that the minister read like: “ With regard to skills development, support to technical, vocation and entrepreneurship development as a means for job and wealth creation will remain a priority”, which did not inspire confidence about its practicality and impact. Youth unemployment is an issue I consider as the number one social, political and economic problem facing Zambia to day but one gets the impression it is no getting enough attention.

The practical aspect of Youth empowerment that the Minister should have addressed in the budget was the reform of the moribund Youth Development Fund. In the current article, I will address factors that have contributed to its failure to achieve job creation. The next one will provide comprehensive and practical solutions on how the Fund can be redesigned to create jobs for young people.

The Republic of Zambia government created the Youth Development Fund (YDF) in 2000 in order to address the issue of Youth unemployment through encouraging young people who could not find formal salaried employment to pursue entrepreneurship and self-employment. This option to employment is one of the universally and internationally recognized solution to youth unemployment.

However, 19 years down the line, there is nothing much to show for it. This article will address the reasons why the programme has miserably failed and why it needs to be revisited and refined as it still offers hope to the issue of solving youth unemployment if innovatively implemented.

According to the study and evaluation of the programme done by the Zambia Institute for Policy analysis and Research (ZIPAR) in 2018, they concluded that the programme failed to achieve its objectives

“The evaluation found that the YDF created a total of 742 paid jobs from 2011 to 2015. Compared to the amount of resources that were invested in the YDF, the jobs did not sufficiently contribute to reduction in the high youth unemployment rate. Additionally, the welfare of the beneficiaries did not improve compared to that of the non- beneficiaries”, ZPAR study concluded.

The intentions of the policy were noble but any knowledgeable person would have predicted or foreseen that the programme was destined to fail from the word go. The reasons why the programme was not going to achieve its objectives was because of flaws in its design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

In the first instance, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child development was charged with the task of managing the fund – loan assessment and disbursement of funds – for Youth empowerment. It is curious how one could have expected a line ministry to all of sudden become a financial institution and expected to carry out the complicated task of loan assessment, disbursement and recovery. It is obvious that issues of capacity, skills set, and experience were certainly going to arise in the administration of the fund.

The Youth Development Fund Programme (YDF), was premised on the flawed assumption that money was the panacea to youth unemployment and is the only impediment to youth going into business. And as such, once funds were provided, Youth were going to set up businesses and create jobs. But if any comprehensive independent research had been done, the programme would have been designed in such way that other resources like business development services, practical youth entrepreneurship training, information dissemination, mentoring and coaching and the use of 21st century digital tools would have been incorporated in the programme. These were clearly absent.

There is also the big and persistent mistake that Government bureaucrats make by thinking that they can come up with private sector policies including those relating to job creation to the exclusion of the people with the expertise and who know how jobs are and be created – the private sector. It is crystal clear that one of the major reasons why the YDF failed is the fact that the Private sector was not involved by government in the design of the programme, its implementation and its monitoring. There was need for the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development to involve the private sector by tapping into private sector expertise and possibly out sourcing some of the services as well as entering into some form of Public Private Partnerships (PPP).The line Ministry would still have been able to be in charge of the overall management of the programme.

The Youth Development Fund started in 2000 but there was no strong formal Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework in place to find out how the fund was performing and whether it was achieving its objectives. The first M& E was contracted in 2017 which is 17 years after its commencement. It was, therefore, impossible to track and measure the impact the fund was making so that improvements could be made.

The other major problem that contributed to the fund failing to achieve its objectives is the fact that it is highly politicized. The various administrations under the MMD and PF have abused the Fund for political purposes and the Zambia Institute for Policy analysis study alludes to this.

”The involvement of politicians in the disbursement of funds has negatively influenced the public perception of the Fund and its potential as a youth economic empowerment vehicle. This is because the Fund is highly linked to the political structures, which make youths think the funds are a political reward or benefit, and this perception could have significantly affected repayments”. ZIPAR study observed.

The idea of solving youth unemployment with entrepreneurship and self-employment initiatives is a noble one and can achieve its intended objectives but the big question is the vehicles and tools used to implement the policy. If innovatively designed, and in tandem with the knowledge and ICT economy of the 21st century, entrepreneurship and self-employment can solve the youth unemployment problem. The government should rethink the design of the Youth Development Fund.

It is imperative that the promotion of youth entrepreneurship should be approached comprehensively in order to achieve lasting impacts. A mix of financial and non-financial support as well as partnership with the private sector can influence the success and sustainability of such policies.

Source Lusaka Times

Zambian youth scoops world bank award

A Zambian youth has scoped the World Bank sponsored blog for development award (#Blog4DevAward).

Musopa Kalenga, a Zambian national, entered an essay writing competition organised by the World Bank Africa Region called #Blog4Dev.

For the first time ever, the World Bank Africa Region hosted the regional blog competition, in 2019, in order to offer young people the opportunities to enhance their networks and realise their dreams.

The competition was for on exploring the topic “what will it take to enhance the skills needed to prepare Africa’s youth for the digital economy and the future of work?”

Young people from 48 African countries were invited and requested to share their ideas on how they could prepare themselves and other youths for the digital economy and a technology-driven workplace. Ms. Musopa entered the competition.

She wrote about how investing in human resources and skills development could prepare young people to prepare for their future and to accelerate their productivity in the digital economy.

In her write-up, she highlighted how the government should invest in education and health to achieve the goal of preparing young people for the digital economy.

She stated in the write-up that for the education sector, the curriculum must aim at empowering young people with cognitive, social behavioral, and adaptability skills due to their relevancy to the future of work. Under the health component, she said in her paper that digital technology investments by the Government and through public-private partnerships, could also play a key role in achieving the objectives targeted at digitising the health sector. In her submission, she stressed her believe that for young people to excel in the digital economy, they will need to live as part of a healthy population.

In the adjudication process, the World Bank shortlisted one person from all the participating African countries. She was picked as the winner from Zambia and was invited for the 2019 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, where she has been attending various sessions on digital transformation.

On learning about the development, Zambia’s delegation leader and Minister of Finance MARGARET MWANAKATWE says Musola’s achievement will have a positive demonstration effect on other youths in Zambia.

The Minister wished Musola more success in her future endeavours and added that, “I would like to see more young females pursuing their dreams of contributing to a Smart Zambia towards Vision 2030.

Mrs. Mwanakatwe has pledged K10, 000 of her personal funds to help Musola to advance her work.

Young Musola is scheduled to leave Washington DC, for Lusaka, later in the day.

Source The Independent Observer

Zambia: PF Orders Arrest of Youths Insulting Kambwili

By Chris Phiri

Patriotic Front secretary general Davies Mwila has called on the Zambia Police to immediate investigate and arrest youths who were captured on video insulting NDC consultant Chishimba Kambwili after the ruling party’s loss in Roan constituency.

Mwila has distanced the ruling Party from the video which is circulating where “people unknown to the Party” are heard threatening the life of Kambwili, the former Roan member of parliament, and issuing unprintables against his mother.

“The Party finds the video to be highly offensive to its values and that the content thereof borders on nothing else but criminality. On that score, the Party Secretary General is calling on the Zambia Police to immediately investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book.

The Secretary General has further reminded the Party members at large that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has constantly called for non-violence in the Party and no such criminality would be tolerated,” stated party media director Sunday Chanda, quoting Mwila.

“PF believes that while we may hold differences with our opponents, they do not become our sworn enemies to the point of shedding blood or wishing for one’s cessation of life.”

And Copperbelt PF youth chairperson Don Mungulube said the video was in bad taste.

“We the Patriotic Front youths on the Copperbelt would like to categorically distance ourselves from a video that has depicted some youths insulting the NDC Leader Mr Chishimba Kambwili. We have seen the video which is in bad test and promoting violence. But like our party leadership on the Copperbelt through our provincial Chairman Mr Nathan Bwalya Chanda, we have always preached peace,” Mungulube said. “It is for this reason that we call on the Zambia Police to investigate this matter and ensure that those identified in the video brought to book…We have conducted our investigations and we don’t have any of the people in the video as our members. The conduct of the youths in the video is unZambian, unChristian and unpatriotic. As peace loving members of the party we condemn that in strongest teams.”

Source Zambia Reports