The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has this year allocated K35 million to 147 processing and production projects in the 10 provinces of Zambia.
Of the 147 projects, 94 are for processing while 53 are for production.
The funds will be channeled towards setting up of dairy, fish, rice, palm oil and cotton industries in Lusaka, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, and Central provinces among others.
CEEC Director General Likando Mukumbuta said out of the K35 million, K25 million was received from the national treasury while K10 million was coming from loan recoveries.
Mr. Mukumbuta said at a media briefing in Lusaka today that the commission was prioritising funding to processing applications while funding for production will depend on the industry and market in question.
He has since disclosed that this year, CEEC received over 8, 000 proposals from 30 districts across the country out of the 17, 000 applications forms that were collected.
From 1st March to 15th April this year, CEEC called for proposals and provided simplified forms online and through council offices countrywide.
Mr. Mukumbuta said the CEEC has improved its loan recovery rate by almost 50 per cent and pledged that the commission will remain committed to being transparent in its operations.
He said as of September last year, the recovery rate stood at 37 per cent accounting for K1.2 million (K1.2 billion old currency) but it now stands at 42 per cent accounting for K1.8 million (K1.8 billion old currency).
He said the commission will strive to improve the recovery rate and position itself favourably for the country.
“CEEC is not a safety net. We don’t give grants. Come to us for business and we are ready to support you as we embark on rural development of the country,” he said.
Following the lifting of the suspension of the empowerment fund on 13th February 2013 by the then Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Robert Sichinga, the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission directed 90 per cent of the fund to rural areas this year.
This is through a process of rural industrialization that will result in new processing industries being established in rural areas in all provinces of Zambia in the proportion of three districts in each province this year.
At least 70 per cent of the resources are expected to benefit women and young people.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mukumbuta has said the CEEC has approved 16 projects for funding in the tourism sector at a cost of more than K20 million ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly that will be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe next month.
This follows the Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) invitation to the commission to participate in the preparations for the assembly.
Mr. Mukumbuta said this will go towards upgrading of hospitality facilities owned by Zambians to notable standards that match the more than 4,000 delegates the country is expecting to receive.
Among the hospitality projects approved by the CEEC are Chapa Classic Lodge and Tours, Eliba Apartments, Falls Spot Lodges, Goodwill Guest House and Heritage Restaurant.