Kgalagadi North Member of Parliament Itumeleng Moipisi on Friday tabled a motion calling for the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) Young Farmers Fund (YFF) to be transformed into a Youth Entrepreneurship Fund so as to broaden its scope and accommodate other important sectors that have been left out.
The CEDA-YFF was introduced eight years ago to provide young Batswana with entrepreneurial training so as to enable them to engage in sustainable agricultural activities, better equipped with the requisite skills for managing farming businesses. After realising that the youth dominate Botswana’s population, government introduced CEDA-YFF to reverse challenges such as poverty, unemployment, rural-urban migration and low participation of youth in agriculture. Eight years later, Moipisi fells the CEDA-YFF has reached its sell-by date and should be revamped to accommodate other sectors of the economy.
“In its current form the program appears to sideline other important sectors as it is only confined to farming. Sectors such as tourism and Information Communication Technology (ICT) are important sectors and they can drive the national economy forward, with the latter today being the engine of growth in every economy around the world,” he said.
He added that the issue should be taken seriously as youth development and empowerment are key priority areas for government in its drive to reduce youth unemployment and poverty.
“By transforming CEDA-YFF into the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund we will be supporting efforts to tackle youth unemployment,” said Moipisi.
He further said the escalating rate of youth unemployment does not augur well for the country as the youth make up the majority of the population. Against this backdrop, Moipisi sees the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund as a window of opportunity that will broaden CEDA-YFF to accommodate other sectors such as ICT, tourism, entertainment, tailoring and leather works.
“Let’s take an example of ICT. Botswana is ranked among the top five in Africa in terms of ICT development. Issues considered for ranking countries are ICT access, usage and skills. The ICT portfolio will absorb a maze of youth with ICT skills, particularly young women who come from tertiary institutions and find it difficult to penetrate the market,” he said.
Currently, 1081 out of 5934 ICT interns are women. Also, women have not benefitted much from CEDA-YFF particularly since they seem not to be interested in farming.
“This is the right time to broaden the scope of CEDA-YFF to make it attractive to females,” Moipisi said.
To buttress his debate, Moipisi cited another example, this time around focusing on manual work such as bricklaying, carpentry, tailoring and upholstery. He said inmates at the department of Prisons and Rehabilitation will benefit from the envisaged Youth Entrepreneurship Fund.
“There are also newly introduced skills such as hair dressing, massage, manicure and pedicure which are attractive to female inmates,” he said.