Government says it will next year establish a Youth Bank that will provide loans to youths in entrepreneurship.
Sports and Youth Minister, Chishimba Kambwili said the Bank would provide affordable loans to youths who will venture into entrepreneurship or cooperatives after graduating from the Zambia National Service (ZNS) skills training centres.
Mr. Kambwili said government is looking at ways of funding the project which will provide low interest loans to the youths.
He said government discussed with the Indian government which has a US$5 million grant for such projects adding that it will also seek for other donor support while part of the funding will come from the government treasury.
He noted that youths have the potential to make it big in farming and other ventures but that they lack capital assuring that government will make sure that such loans are more accessible to the youths.
He added that government is also planning to establish provincial farms will also have a component of value addition to create employment for the many unemployed youths especially those who will be trained under the ZNS programme.
Mr. Kambwili said this when he featured on a Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC) television Sunday interview programme monitored by ZANIS.
He said agriculture is one sector which has the potential for national development and employment creation if well harnessed.
He cited neighbouring Malawi is a good example of a country that has used the agriculture sector for development.
The Minister said Zambia has huge tracts of arable land and water masses that can effectively be used to develop agriculture.
Mr. Kambwili said many people, especially political opponents, were allegedly criticising the programme because they fear that it will succeed.
He has, meanwhile, boasted that the Patriotic Front (PF) government means serious business and will succeed in its programmes adding that at a personal level he has not done anything that has failed and further pledged that he can offer himself to resign if the programme fails.
The Minister has, meanwhile, reiterated that government has not yet decided whether the ZNS programme will be compulsory or optional consultations were still on going.
He added that his Ministry will also present a proposal to Cabinet regarding the timeframe for the training but stated that it will not go beyond 18 months.
Mr. Kambwili has also assured the youths that the programme will be purely skills training and will not have any component of military training.
He also allayed fears from the youths especially girls that they will not have their hair cut stating that the programme will abide by the human rights.
He said government would also put in strictly measures to deter instructors who will be engaged to conduct the trainings from abusing the youths.
Mr. Kambwili added that government will also involve TEVETA to monitor the instructors to ensure that the programme complies with its requirements.
The Minister recently announced in parliament that government would revamp the ZNS training camps to enable pupils who complete Grade 12 to train in various life skills.
But this has received mixed reactions from the public with the majority school going children being against the idea while those especially the elderly who went through similar programmes in the first government of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda largely supporting the idea.
The programme is expected to take off next year and government will decide whether or not it will be mandatory or optional.