Zambia’s Newly-Elected President Announces the Creation of a Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises to Address Challenges of Access to Finance
President Hakainde Hichilema’s victory in the August Zambian presidential election is said to have caused the winds of change to begin blowing within the country. His win was largely favoured and celebrated by the Zambian youth who constituted over 50% of the electorate. Alongside vows to foster a better democracy and restore the country’s economy, the President and his government also announced the creation of three new ministries: the Ministry of Technology and Science, the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment and the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
Zambia’s new Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development is set to assist with the creation and growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the country to promote job creation. Small-scale businesses and entrepreneurs have welcomed the new ministry, quoting that it presents a new avenue for them to present the challenges they face, specifically with accessing affordable financing solutions and hopefully receive the help they need.
The new initiative is not without criticism, however, as one opposition party disapproved of the President’s decision for the new ministry, citing that it is a duplication of the efforts of the existing Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and would find a ministry solely focused on the country’s informal sector more beneficial. On the other hand, the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) have expressed their dedication to cooperating with the government to ensure that the establishment of the new ministry produces valuable outcomes as it has the potential to create over four million jobs. The ZACCI president further urged that both the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance support the new ministry in carving out useful solutions for the SME sector.
SMEs makeup approximately 97% of companies in Zambia and are undeniably important for boosting private sector development, fostering economic growth, and reducing unemployment within the country. The introduction of the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development will hopefully cultivate an enabling environment conducive enough to support SMEs in their contribution to inclusive growth and development in Zambia.