YOUTH unemployment has become one of the most common phrases that one gets to hear of almost on a daily basis in Zambia.
Obviously the phenomenon is not peculiar to Zambia alone but to many other developing and even developed nations around the world.
However, in Zambia, the matter has in recent months taken centre stage because it was one of the campaign tools for the then opposition party, now in government, the Patriotic front (PF).
Expectations from the youth were very high and one can easily understand the desperation in the thousands of our youths who, in futility, search for employment opportunities each passing day.
Their parents or guardians who could be out of employment, perhaps resulting from the extensive downsizing that came with the privatisation exercise a few years back, are now looking up to their children to support them, but sadly, this is impossible because job opportunities have been hard to come by.
In their desperation, the youth have tended to become violent as they hope to get jobs that sometimes seem within reach and yet too far.
This was seen only a few weeks ago when a number of youths resorted to violence when they were left out of the recruitment exercise conducted by the police and defence forces.
We cannot entirely blame the youth because we understand that a desperate person is capable of resorting to any means at his disposal in the hope of turning his depressing situation into a promising one.
Yesterday’s seminar organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Lusaka could not have come at a better time than now when Zambia is grappling with the problem of youth unemployment.
That the Government attaches great importance to this subject cannot be doubted as evidenced by the heavy presence of Cabinet ministers where ministers of Finance, Labour, Commerce, Education, Youth and Agriculture were present and effectively participated in the deliberations.
All these and many others attended the meeting because they are concerned about the high levels of youth unemployment in the country which like President Michael Sata rightly referred to as a time bomb that can detonate at any time.
The AfDB’s approach is such that it will be able to finance infrastructure development, regional integration and regional markets which the bank feels are key to job employment across all ages, gender, regional and geographical divides of the people in Africa.
Obviously, a concerted approach to finding lasting solutions to youth unemployment is desirable, hence the coming in of the AfDB to dialogue with the Zambian Government and other stakeholders is something that is not only desirable but deserves huge commendation.
Any long journey always begins with a step and the AfDB indaba is one such step aimed at finding lasting solutions to the “time bomb” that is in our midst.
It is our hope that the role that Government is also already playing in coming up with strategies that would create jobs will indeed be followed through and result in tangible interventions and not be abandoned at the stage of round table meetings or workshops.
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