CITIZENS Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) Director General Likando Mukumbuta says the institution has moved its loan recovery rate to 65 per cent from 21 percent in 2013, signifying improved and timely repayment among entrepreneurs.

And Mukumbuta says the Commission is expecting to create 125,000 jobs by next year following the operationalization of industrial yards.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Mukumbuta said that the Commission had been restructured and reorganized and was expecting to reach 80 per cent of loan recovery rate by 2022.

“You know that we’ve been reforming as an institution. We’ve been making a lot of headway. In the first three or four years of the institution, there were one or two challenges, which government set a task to fix. Government changed the board, changed the management and then we came up with a new strategic report. At that time, we had issues, such as we were appearing at PAC (Parliamentary Accounts Committee) for not producing financial statements and so on and so forth, but I will be glad to say that starting from 2013, all that has been cleared up. You will find that all our financial statements have been in order; all our audit statements have been clean; it’s a very strong institution now. All our provincial offices are very operational; we’ve become a strong partner of the AfDB, of various other Ministries and other agencies and so on. Our loan recovery rate is very strong in the developing world: we started off at 21 per cent in 2013, we are now running at 65 per cent. We are on target to hit 80 per cent by 2022,” Mukumbuta said.

“As a matter of fact, we are doing quite well; out of the K350 million we’ve disbursed so far, K110 million is from the revolving fund so that is not money that has come from Treasury, but that has come from the Fund and that’s a very good track record that we have.”

He, however, said government would soon be announcing new reserved sectors under the reservation schemes being implemented by the CEEC.

And Mukumbuta said the Commission was projected to create 125,000 jobs by next year.

“The money for the infrastructure was from the AfDB and now that that’s done, the Ministry of Finance will come in. So, we are looking to leverage the COVID-19 funding to operationalize the industrial yards and to expand them…what backs that is the development of industrial yards so far in seven provinces. We’ve finished five already, Mongu is complete; Solwezi is complete; Kasama is complete; Ndola is complete; Chipata is complete. What that means is that we’ve now created the infrastructure where we are going to promote light manufacturing among citizens. The lines are going to be metal fabrication where we will be working with steel, we’ll be processing our timber, some of these products we’ve been importing from China made out of timber will be made by our own young people. We are investing in automotive and mechanics; there is no reason why we should be importing air filters, oil filters, fuel filters. Those things we can manufacture in Zambia and then, of course, there is agro-processing, which is very huge,” Mukumbuta said.

“When you look at industrial yards that we are promoting that are under skills development projects for supporting women and youth, more than 50 per cent of those workshops are actually going to go to young people. In the cassava commercialization, we are creating 17,000 jobs, more than 50 per cent of those jobs are going to young people under the COVID-19 initiative that we’ve laid out. We are going to be creating 125,000 jobs between this year and next year, 50 per cent of those jobs are going to young people. Now, that is what counts, if you look at our portfolio, currently, we’ve disbursed to 3,588 businesses in Zambia out of those, more than 1,100 have gone to young people, more than 1,000 have gone to women.”

He said of the five industrial yards that were complete, Mongu, Kasama and Chipata are fully subscribed awaiting operationalization.

“Fortunately, you know that we advertised, we informed Zambians that we’ve finished construction, can you apply. So, Mongu is fully subscribed now; Kasama is fully subscribed; Chipata is fully subscribed. We are still looking for more applications in Solwezi; we are still looking for more applications in Ndola in the sense that after receiving all the applications, evaluating them and so on, there are still some industrial workshops that are still don’t have tenants so we are looking for that. So, the kind of people that are going to occupy them are going to be mostly women and youth because the project itself that has sponsored the yards is supported by the AfDB for supporting women and youth,” said Mukumbuta.

“So, looking forward, we are very confident that we’ve embraced the right strategies. Zambia is next month going to open the largest starch manufacturing plant in southern Africa owned by a Zambian from cassava. The import substitution for the mines in terms of the starch that they use for their copper refining is actually going to start being achieved through that operation. Through that operation, in Kalumbila alone, we are going to create about 30,000 jobs in the cassava value chain. Now, those are the kinds of strategies that speak to the change that we are looking for, that embraces the women, the youth backed by a strategy for transforming our economy from being a primary sector economy where we are now into an industrial base.”