Zambia has a young population. This gives the country a distinct advantage over countries with older and aging populations who struggle with labour and end up importing the same labour to ensure they continue producing goods and services. They do this at great expense to the country as the labour costs go up making their products and services expensive. We will use Zambia’s demographic dividend of our youth bulge to catapult our country forward. We always marvel at how our youths, educated or not, work so hard. If they are not selling some merchandise, they are pushing a wheelbarrow to move goods from one point to another, others are writing books, documenting the history of this country, others are providing the much-needed human resource to multinationals. Many however have been left behind and remain unemployed or under-employed for years after obtaining their degrees and diplomas. You only have to look at how some have ventured into agriculture, to see how resourceful and versatile our youth are. It is a shame to see how they have been badly neglected through lack of education, opportunities, and access to finance, and markets. This is how UPND intends to address these challenges.
UPND has been consistent, education will be free to the University level. Some argue that this is not possible, but one just has to look at US$42 million spent on fire tenders bought from scrap yards, money that was spent on buying defective condoms, sub-standard surgical gloves, and asprin to the value of US$17 million. The Lusaka – Ndola dual carriageway costing us US$1.2 bn, not US$380 million. All this money will be deployed into educating our youth. We are also reforming the education system to academic and skills focused. There will be no one dropping out of school without a skill. The whole curriculum will be revised to include entrepreneurship from upper primary school. The youths who drop out of school at grade 9 will have acquired this skill as they venture into their preferred enterprise, armed with a skill that could include metalwork, woodwork, agriculture to mention a few practical aspects of education. Junior Engineers Technicians and Scientists (JETS) is an incubator of ideas and is a demonstration of the creativity of youths. This programme coupled with industry research and development (R&D) will be promoted and funded.
Opportunities and financing
Many opportunities end up with foreigners on account that our people do not have the financial muscle for the projects for which they bid. Local organisations like CEEC, ZDA, and DBZ will be reformed to financially support our youth as long as they have a contract, which will be given out on merit. Capital projects such as roads and infrastructure will be awarded to locals on all items that can be sourced locally. There is no way Zambian stones and aggregates that are used for roads have suppliers from outside the country. Aggregates used in construction such as sand, crushed stones, laterite will be a preserve of the local population. This is where CEEC, DBZ (financing for CAPEX and working capital) and ZDA (business development services) will play a crucial role, including the BOZ. This is how you create jobs for youths while ensuring the currency remains stable. Those in the Copperbelt will be primary suppliers and providers of services to the mines because they will have the financial muscle to compete with the small foreign companies that are backed by state financing in their countries of origin.
When you walk through markets such as Kalingalinga, Marapodi, Chisokone, Maramba, and many others, you see young people welding window and door frames, gates and some are brake bonding. These are self-starters without support from Government. Yet we have so much construction going on and these youths are not participating. Using the model of financing explained above these youths will be given tools to make quality products for supply to hardware shops as well automotive garages for those that are involved in spare parts refurbishment. UPND government will ensure that business is given to these youths to ensure that they can become self-sustaining. As a result of having a guaranteed market, these youths will create employment.
Zambia will move to industrialization at a very fast pace because of these measures above. Zambia will be mapped into the various zones where the non-food industry will be created while promoting agri-business as explained in the previous policy submission. Zambia’s youths are very hard working, what they lack is a supportive environment that will not talk about percentages but absolute numbers. What is 20% of contracts given to Zambians, in absolute terms? Probably no one can even explain this but if you said of the 34 youth-led companies in Lusaka, 20 will supply sand for Lusaka 400; 10 will supply crushed stones and the remaining 4 will supply cement and water trucking services, you start to address the problem.
This is UPND, August 12th you cast your vote; on August 13th we start working for you.
HH aka Bally