The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the former British South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices, economic mismanagement, and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule and propelled the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to government. The subsequent vote in 1996, however, saw increasing harassment of opposition parties and abuse of state media and other resources. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems, with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy MWANAWASA. MWANAWASA was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair. Upon his death in August 2008, he was succeeded by his vice president, Rupiah BANDA, who won a special presidential byelection later that year. The MMD and BANDA lost to the Patriotic Front (PF) and Michael SATA in the 2011 general elections. SATA, however, presided over a period of haphazard economic management and attempted to silence opposition to PF policies. SATA died in October 2014 and was succeeded by his vice president, Guy SCOTT, who served as interim president until January 2015, when Edgar LUNGU won the presidential byelection and completed SATA's term. LUNGU then won a full term in August 2016 presidential elections.
Southern Africa, east of Angola, south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydropower
Population - distribution
one of the highest levels of urbanization in Africa; high density in the central area, particularly around the cities of Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, and Mufulira
Bembe 33.4%, Nyanja 14.7%, Tonga 11.4%, Lozi 5.5%, Chewa 4.5%, Nsenga 2.9%, Tumbuka 2.5%, Lunda (North Western) 1.9%, Kaonde 1.8%, Lala 1.8%, Lamba 1.8%, English (official) 1.7%, Luvale 1.5%, Mambwe 1.3%, Namwanga 1.2%, Lenje 1.1%, Bisa 1%, other 9.7%, unspecified 0.2%
LUSAKA (capital) 2.179 million (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of Zambia
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 15 25 S, 28 17 E
- Time difference
- UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Zambia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the ten years up to 2014, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed in 2015 and 2016 to just under 3%, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 8,785,199,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -767,651,771
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 9,979,766,286
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 7,856,679,779
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 1,582,666,667
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 861,512,074
corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (manioc, tapioca), coffee; cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides
copper mining and processing, emerald mining, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture
- copper/cobalt, cobalt, electricity; tobacco, flowers, cotton
- Switzerland 44.2%, China 14.5%, Singapore 7.8%, South Africa 7.7%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 7.5% (2015)
- machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer, foodstuffs, clothing
- South Africa 31%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 11.2%, China 8.2%, Mauritius 5.7%, Kenya 4.9%, India 4.3% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is difficult. Corporate financial information is often unavailable and when available often unreliable. Debt collection is unpredictable. The institutional framework has many troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run major risks in the difficult environments rated C.
- Mineral wealth (copper: second-largest producer in Africa, cobalt, uranium, gold, diamonds, manganese)
- Significant hydroelectric potential
- International financial support
- Dependence on copper
- Landlocked and reliant on communication channels of neighboring countries
- Electricity generation almost totally hydroelectric, unreliable transport network
- Extreme inequalities, health, education, and administrative failings
Mining production (around 15% of GDP) could increase again in 2017, following the sharp fall recorded in 2016 as a number of companies decided to cut capacities because of low copper prices. The Sentinel mine, opened in 2015, should gradually reach its production potential. Activity in the industrial sector could however continue to be held back by electricity shortages. The drought in the country in 2016 resulted in a drastic reduction in energy production, almost wholly from hydroelectric power plants. Improved climatic conditions should make it possible to improve the supply of electricity in 2017, but production capacities remain well below the level needed by companies and households.
The agriculture sector should feel the benefits of more favorable weather conditions than in 2016 and the services sector (telecommunications, retail, and financial services), accounting for more than half of GDP, should make a positive contribution to economic growth.
The high rate of interest (15.5% at the end of 2016) and weak demand will drag down investment. Household consumption is likely to feel the impact of more restrictive budgetary policies and rising prices.
Inflation is expected to be lower in 2017 than in 2016, but still remain at a rate well above the central bank’s target rate (7%). Prices of food products are likely to remain high but will not increase sharply, provided that there is an improvement in the meteorological conditions with the ending of the El Niño phenomenon. In addition, any settling down in kwacha exchange rates would help limit price rises for imports. Nevertheless, the prices of some products (most notably petrol) are set to rise with the reduction in subsidies.
The public deficit should start falling in 2017 as the rate of increase in expenditure slows. Following the generous wage rises (+29%) granted ahead of the elections in August 2016, the government is expected to bring growth in spending under control. In addition, a number of subsidies are set to be reduced (in particular that on petrol), especially if Zambia signs an agreement with the IMF: Financial support from the IMF is conditional on implementing budget discipline. At the same time, tax revenues should increase as a result of any upturn in mining activity (accounting for around 12% of State revenues). However, the cost of servicing the public debt, 65% denominated in foreign currencies, increased significantly following the depreciation of the kwacha in 2015 and is a burden on the budget. In addition, the arrears accumulated by the State with regard to state-owned companies are also likely to hinder any improvement in the public finances.
The increase in copper production (almost three-quarters of export earnings) should offset the continuing weakness in prices and help reduce the deficit. At the same time, increasing domestic electricity production should contribute to limiting the cost of imported energy. The inward flow of investments is expected to remain small but the decline in the mining sector investment should come to an end. The firming up in the exchange rate for the kwacha against the dollar seen in 2016 (+12% between January and the end of October) should continue in 2017, provided an agreement can be reached with the IMF (negotiations are scheduled to start in early 2017).
Edgar Lungu, elected in January 2015 to complete the presidential term of Michael Sata, who died in October 2014, was re-elected as head of state in September 2016. The victory of the Patriotic Front (PF) candidate, with barely 50.3% of votes in the first round, has been contested by the leading opponent, H. Hichilema, the candidate of the United Party for National Development (UPND), which obtained 47.6% of votes. Allegations of fraud, and the arrest in early October of the leader of the UPND, for inciting violence, have tarnished the mature democratic image of Zambia. Economic issues are exacerbating discontent within the increasingly divided population under the domination of the PF. Sporadic strikes cannot be ruled out, in particular in a context of the reduction in State spending.
Zambia’s performance in terms of governance is better overall than most other countries in the area and improving. But its performance is poor in terms of corruption (119th out of 209 countries) and government effectiveness (140th).