Zambia, Planning For Progression

The Republic of Zambia: a nationwith a keen eye on the future. A peaceful landin the heart of Southern Africa, with a reputation for political stability. A country of determination, on a mission to enhance its economic potential through Vision 2030.

Nestled in the heart of the southern African continent, Zambia borders 8 other countries, including Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. Its home to around 14.3 million and the capital city is Lusaka.

Zambia has seen a decade of rapid economic growth. In 2010 the World Bank dubbed it one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries, which wasclosely followed bya successful reduction of annual inflation rates, and its rise to ‘middle income’ status.

Following its independence in nineteen sixty four, Zambia’s economy was debatably quiet until the late 1990s, when privatisation of mining begun to draw in investments and improve its output. Zambia is now the continent’s biggest copper producer, and credited for helping the country achieve rapid growth through investments and related infrastructure.

The government are striving to promote many opportunities in this sector, including supply of semi processed oil and the proposed Kafue Gorge Lower power stations. Securing financing for these projects, among others, is of the upmost importance to the nation’s future.

However, despite the sector’s success, reducing dependence on minerals is a priority, particularly due to internationally fluctuating commodity prices and the consequent economic effects.

Zambia has been maintaining a steady annual growth rate of around 5.7%  through the last decade, steadily striding its way towards middle income status. Its careful combination of market liberalisation, privatisation and prudent macroeconomic management are said to contribute to this success, along with the steep international increase in copper prices.

Yet this economic growth has not yet reduced Zambia’s national poverty number. At present, over seventy percent of Zambia’s rural population are considered to suffer from extreme poverty, which has only grown with the increase in population, making welfare a strong focus for development.

Historically FDI has streamed into mining, manufacturing and retail trade and, while non-traditional exports have risen to around one billion US dollars annually, the government needs to enhance economic diversification to realise its many other investment opportunities.

The need for American companies to invest in Zambia’s key sectors and, in particular, energy, health and agriculture is one of the main issues being discussed on a bilateral level with the US. In partnership with the AGOA, the government has now benchmarked the US as a key trading partner, and one that has not yet been fully utilised.

There are also lesser known sectors that have scope for investment. ICT, for example, has achieved promising development over the last ten years, and the government is working to further liberalise and privatise the sector. Internet access is presently limited, and there is plenty of opportunity for growth in telecommunications.

So much so, that the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority have called upon the private sector to invest and help build necessary rural infrastructure to better serve the nation.

Zambia’s high poverty and hunger rates have made the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector a priority. 60% of the nation’s overall population are living below the poverty line, while high incidents levels of HIV, AIDS and Malaria remain.

The country is arguably too dependent on the copper industry, which can be prone to fluctuation and has not yet generated the necessary jobs and income levels once hoped for. Much of the necessary investment for health comes from international aid, but as a sign of the government’s commitment, the national allocation for healthcare spending was increased in 2013 and efforts are being channelled to improve the sector for the Zambian people.

The Zambia Bureau of Standards, also known as  ‘ZABS’, is the National Standards Body, which supports the nation’s steps to better increase quality and standardisation.

The government is working to increase economic growth from five to seven percent to help achieve its Millennium Development Goals and fulfil Vision 2030. The banking industry is already growing at a rate of around thirty percent each year, and the Central Bank says Zambian lenders are benefiting from the country’s economic progress.

According to Zambia’s National Commercial Bank, only an estimated 37 percent of the bankable population are said to have bank accounts. One of the challenges in reaching Vision 2030 is in ensuring that scarce fiscal resources are spent on activities to promote Zambia’s competitiveness and provide services for locals to participate in its progression. The Office of the Auditor General formerly revealed the misuse of government resources within some sectors, which was followed by considered efforts to improve overall governance of financial resources and enhance efficiency for all.

Zambia’s interior landscape is interlinked through sixty seven thousand kilometres of road – with only eight thousand kilometres paved. The government has set its sights on doubling this number by 2017, at an estimated cost of six billion dollars.

Selected areas of capital city Lusaka are already undergoing transformation with the construction of new and existing roads, creating new jobs and helping support the economy. The government hopes to find over five hundred million dollars from investments to support building a new airport in the mineral region of Copperbelt. Just one of the many opportunities for interested international investors.

Agriculture is said to be Zambia’s sleeping giant.  It is a critical sector of its economy, playing an important part in enhancing sustainable growth for the country – yet has a significant sum of untapped potential.

There are multiple avenues of opportunity for investors within this sector, including priority investment for wheat, sugar, cotton, maize and tea crops. Livestock is already registering positive growth, yet is faced with low productivity due to underinvestment and limited technology for animal farming.

For investors and potential partners there is also an increasing demand for agricultural equipment, necessary improvements in irrigation to be implemented and a requirement for improved infrastructure to ease transportation of goods and overall trade.

With its majestic waterfalls, abundance of African wildlife and captivating culture, Zambia promises to make each visitor’s stay a memorable one. Perhaps no wonder when people see what this African beauty has to offer.  Yet the nation has not yet utilised their diverse tourism potential, and the government now wants to increase Zambia’s visibility on the global stage.

Zambia is home to the world’s biggest waterfall, Victoria Falls. This UNESCO World Heritage site rises an impressive one thousand seven hundred and eight feet into the air – double the size of Niagara Falls.

Thirty percent of the country is dedicated to national parks, including some of the world’s biggest game parks which can be enjoyed through many types of safaris –in a four by four, canoe or even famously by foot.

Zambia is African’s surprising little known gem – and one just waiting to shine.

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