BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi
GOVERNMENT has disbursed a total of K1,038, 000 to 46 youth co-operatives and associations that were successful applicants of the 2015 Youth Development Fund (YDF) in North-Western Province.
Speaking at the handover of cheques to beneficiaries in Solwezi on Thursday, Ministry of Youth and Sport permanent secretary Agness Musunga said the disbursement of the money is a clear demonstration by the government that it wants to empower young people.
Ms Musunga said since 2012, Government has disbursed funds amounting to K43 million to 1,300 youth-led co-operatives, associations and enterprises across the country.
â€œOut of these, 105 youth co-operatives and associations from North-Western Province have been funded in the last three years to the tune of K3.4 million and today brings the total of groups funded to 151 and the total value of the funded projects in four years goes to K4.5 million,â€ she said.
Ms Musunga appealed to the beneficiaries of the YDF to pay back the loans to allow other youths to access the money.
â€œIt is only when you pay back that we shall manage the funds sustainably and allow as many youths as possible to access the money,â€ she said.
Ms Musunga said Government is aware of the many challenges that hinder youths from fully participating in national development such as limited education and training opportunities, limited access to land and finance and limited employment opportunities.
She, however, said Government is committed to resolving them and has prioritised the creation of youth empowerment and employment opportunities on its agenda.
Ms Musunga said youths are the foundation for sustainable national development.
She said it is against this background that President Lungu recently launched the first ever action plan for youth empowerment and employment which seeks to contribute 40 percent to the creation of one million jobs that are spelt out in the strategic paper on industrialisation and job creation
Earlier, North-Western Province permanent secretary Amos Malupenga said despite the high level of mining activities taking place in the province, the region is faced with high unemployment levels especially among the youth.
Mr Malupenga was speaking in a speech read for him by his deputy Alfred Chiingi.
He said demand for youth development fund in the province is high and that there was need for Government to increase the allocation.
And speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, Brendah Mwanapabo from Kasempa district thanked the government and President Lungu in particular for recognising youths in the province by empowering young enterpreneurs.
Ms Mwanapabo said North-Western Province has a lot of potential in terms of natural resources that can make youths embark on various projects, but because of financial constraints, young people are unable to undertake meaningful projects.
BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi