Grow Private Sector to Address Unemployment in Zambia: Jesuit Scholars to Government

Credit: JCTR

Zambia’s government ought to grow the private sector to curb the high levels of unemployment in the Southern African nation, an official of an institution of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the country has said.

In a statement reacting to the 2021 Labour Force` Survey (LFS) released in December, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe, says, the private sector is the biggest employer in the country.

The 2021 LFS indicates that 450,759 Zambians are unemployed; 38.7 percent of the unemployed persons are in rural areas while 61.3 percent dwell in urban areas.

“Government efforts in growing the private sector should be the best indicator of performance since the private sector is the largest employer. Government should therefore create a conducive and enabling business environment for private sector growth,” Fr. Muyebe says in the Saturday, January 7 statement.

Government alone “cannot absorb all the unemployed people,” the member of the Society of Jesus says.


He explains that while in 2022 the government recruited the largest number of health workers and teachers in recent history, “compared to the enormity of the unemployment problem, government recruitments are a drop in the ocean.”

Zambia’s Ministry of Education recruited 30,000 teachers while the Ministry of Health recruited 11,276 health workers in 2022. 

In the statement, Fr. Muyebe says the Zambian government “in 2022 government outperformed in creating public sector jobs.”

He, however, emphasizes the need to empower the private sector, saying, “while it is very important that government must ensure that it creates public sector jobs, the biggest employer is the private sector.”

The official of the research, education, and advocacy Jesuit institution says, “The private sector plays a pivotal role in providing employment.”

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The Jesuit Cleric also calls for the improvement of the agriculture sector. He says, “The country needs a very robust agriculture sector. The agriculture sector in Zambia remains very critical potential for economic growth, job creation, and development.”

“In the early 2000s, the agriculture sector contributed over 20 percent of GDP and created over 72 percent of jobs in the country. In 2021, the agriculture sector contribution to GDP stood at 2.96 percent and created less than 48 percent of jobs in the country,” says the official of the Lusaka-based institution. 

Fr. Muyebe further calls for the empowerment and evaluation of programs under the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) and Citizens Economic Empowerment Program with an aim of making them “more effective in generating much-needed jobs.”

The JCTR Director also says there is a need to promote foreign investment in Zambia.

“FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) will continue to be one of the key sources of jobs. Investment promotion should therefore be strengthened and incentives could be provided to labor-intensive FDIs,” he says in the January 7 statement.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.