THE participation of every citizen in Zambia’s economic development is cardinal. In fact, the wider the participation, the better.
The more players get involved in economic development, no matter how small they maybe, their contributions put together could amount to immense output.
It is clear that valuable attainment of set development goals may not be achieved if only a few and same players continued to participate all the time.
Thus, bringing other players on board turns out to be the most prudent and thoughtful progressive idea to enhance any economic development agenda.
Realising that fact, the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) recently shifted focus of empowering the economically disadvantaged applicants.
These are rural applicants, who by virtue of them being in places far away from the urban areas, could not compete favourably in accessing the funds.
The shift from previous disbursement patterns that favoured urban applicants is in line with the re-organised CEEC that ensured that 90 per cent of the funds were distributed to rural applicants.
That way, CEEC which was established through the enactment of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act Number 9 of 2006, continues to foster broad-based economic empowerment.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Bob Sichinga is right to contrast previous methods of loans that were given out to individuals without sustainable projects and mostly concentrated in urban areas.
This new approach however, is designed to provide strategic benefits available in each region that would have maximum economic impact.
Beneficiaries are in form of chain clusters, thereby, making it easy for CEEC to roll out the funds to the rest of the country by the end of 2015.
The new approach is also another way of indigenising of the CEEC to promote growth of local enterprises.
If rural applicants were adequately funded, then sectors such as the fish industry that had slumped by 50 per cent would be revitalised.
Production of soya beans, groundnuts among other crops grown in the rural areas would certainly expand to levels where they would contribute to national economic growth.
Another beauty about clusters is that they can propel the industrialisation process and at the same time see more people benefit through the creation of industries that would be born as the value chain grows.
With CEEC having earlier entered in agreements with some financial institutions present in many rural areas, disbursement of funds would be quicker and in good time for usage.
Unlike in the past when submission of applications was not the only hassle, even receiving approved funds was another nightmare rural applicants had to contend with.
The delayed process degenerated into situations where applicants received the funds at a time their plans would have been disturbed.
Would-be recipients, however, have lessons to learn, that they do not to concentrate much on the amount of money, but on how they could utilise the resources to grow their business and create employment.
Memories are fresh when former beneficiaries, misapplied the funds on programmes different from those they applied for, and in the end failed to pay back.
We support the idea of CEEC funding chain clusters as it is a safer and more transparent among recipients who would be counter-checked by other members. OPINION