Zambia is a landlocked country in central-east sub-Saharan Africa. It covers an area of 752,614km² and borders eight African countries, namely Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It has a population of 20.5 million people and a GDP of US$30.6bn.
In 2021 the landslide poll victory by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who replaced President Edgar Lungu, was an important milestone for democracy in Africa. The electoral swing shows voter determination to reject oppressive and corrupt government, and the handover of power was achieved without bloodshed. Hichilema is a successful businessman and is expected to restore respect for human rights and urgently address the country’s debt mountain.
Zambia has abundant natural resources such as minerals, wildlife, freshwater and farming land, and its economy has largely been developed through mining and agriculture. Zambia is the second-largest copper producer after the DRC, in Africa and its economy is historically highly dependent on copper mining activities. Agriculture provides more jobs than mining, and most Zambians in rural areas are subsistence farmers.
Zambia has one of the world’s highest grades of copper deposits and is ranked the seventh-largest copper producer in the world. Mining contributes over 70% of the country’s foreign export earnings and contributes on average over 20% to GDP.
Zambia has significant potential for tourism and offers a wealth of natural tourism assets. Attractions include Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO Heritage site as well as abundant lakes and rivers, and wildlife-protected areas in the form of 20 national parks and 34 game management areas that together occupy some 10 percent of the country’s total land area.
Lake Tanganyika, the longest and second-deepest freshwater lake in the world, is the only inland waterway in Zambia that connects it with the Great Lakes region (Burundi, Tanzania, DRC and beyond to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya) and is used for commercial shipping. Zambia’s only harbour port, Mpulungu, is situated at the southern tip of the lake, which is shared by four countries – Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Zambia. The harbour is the gateway to the north by ferry and provides an important outlet for exports and imports by ship.
The formal wholesale and retail food sector is comprised of modern retailers and includes supermarkets and fast food restaurants, mainly concentrated in the major shopping malls of main cities, urban towns and districts. Fast food chains include Nando’s, Debonairs Pizza, Hungry Lion and KFC. The food wholesale sector is predominantly in Lusaka and dominated by companies like Massmart’s Jumbo Cash and Carry, Shoprite’s Megasave and locally-owned wholesalers such as Shriman Zambia.
Real GDP recovered to 4.6% growth in 2021 and 3.0% in 2022 after contracting by 2.8% in 2020. The recovery was driven mainly by wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, and mining and quarrying.
GDP is projected to grow 4.0% in 2023 and 4.2% in 2024, underpinned by the continued recovery in mining, services, and manufacturing; higher global copper prices; and market confidence associated with ongoing fiscal consolidation measures.
Sources: Who Owns Whom sector reports, CIA Factbook, African Development Bank, World Bank, Trading Economics, African Statistical Yearbook and IMF.