YOUTH, Sport and Child Development Minister Emmanuel Mulenga says President Edgar Lungu is set to launch another youth empowerment programme on the Copperbelt this Saturday.

Speaking during a briefing, Thursday, Mulenga said government targeted to empower not less than 160,000 youths before December 2020.

“This coming Saturday the 15th of August 2020 His Excellency the President of Zambia will be launching a good substantial amount of money. It is going to carter for the youths and this money is actually sitting in our Ministry. This will be done on the Copperbelt on Saturday. So all youths are encouraged to follow the proceedings wherever they will be so that they know and appreciate how they are going to have access to that youth empowerment. Our target as a Ministry is to empower not less 160,000 youths before December this year,” Mulenga said.

“Since the funds will be launched by His Excellency I would rather live it to His Excellency to announce the funds which will be put on the table for the youths to access. We are not looking at a specific sector or a particular kind of business which the youths should engage themselves into. Remember, we have done some empowerment before and after doing a review and the report was issued in 2018, 2019; the report indicated that we just impose as a ministry, projects and business ideas on the youths. So we have left it up to the youths to come up with business proposals. We need to understand that business is something that you like doing, something you enjoy doing.”

He said his ministry had engaged ZAFFICO to empower youths with timber logs which were going to be used in the production of desks for sale to the Ministry of General Education.

“The other thing we have negotiated under the value added chain, we have spoken with ZAFFICO. You know that timber has become a scarce product, it is not so much available on the market and many millers are having a challenge to get timber. If youths want to get into the production of desks, it is becoming expensive for them to produce desks and during the last opening of Parliament His Excellency President of Zambia directed Minister of General Education to start buying desks from youth owned enterprises; but the youths have been failing to produce a desk at a competitive price because the cost of timber has actually escalated,” he said.

“So, what we have done is that we have agreed with ZAFFICO, they are going to give certain cubes of logs. At the moment, they have given 4,800 cubes which we are going to give to the youths. The youths are going to start harvesting these logs, that is the set of youths. Another set of youths are going to be producing timber from these logs and they are going to supply another group of youths who are going to produce desks. We have agreed with the Ministry of General Education to be buying desks from these youths. So, the market has been created already. So we are creating that environment making sure they thrive and they pay back.”

Mulenga also said his ministry would sign another agreement with the Zambia National Service to empower youths with business skills and ideas.

“We have an agreement that is going to be signed on that day with Zambia National Service. Zambia National Service will take youths on board inclusive of youths who are on the streets without any skill. Zambia National Service is actually going to take them on board and teach them skills and business ideas on how to run any business into a profitable business. We have also agreed with financial institutions. We have brought on board banks and other financial institutions which are going to teach these youths financial principles which they are supposed to implement in their business,” said Mulenga.