Zambia Economy

Zambia Economy


Corruption, little economic diversification and the vulnerability to extreme weather conditions (drought, floods) have kept the country at an economically low level of development despite favorable natural resources (rich mineral resources, large water resources, extensive agriculturally usable areas). The main industries are agriculture and copper mining. As part of a debt relief initiative, the country’s economic policy has for years been based on the guidelines of the IMF and the World Bank. the fight against poverty and corruption and the continuation of the privatization course that has been initiated. Due to a temporary increase in export income, the economy has grown by 6% in recent years, However, due to the collapse in copper prices on the world market, economic growth fell to 3.0% in 2015 and 2016. With aGross national income (GNI) of (2017) US $ 1,300 per resident, Zambia continues to be one of the developing countries with middle income in the lower range.

Foreign trade: Due to the pressure on the world market for copper, the foreign trade balance of Zambia is negative (import value 2015: 8.4 billion US $, export value: 7.0 billion US $). Copper and cobalt are mainly exported, while industrial goods, fuels and food are imported. The main trading partners are the Republic of South Africa as well as Switzerland, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


In the agricultural sector (including forestry and fisheries), more than half of the workforce (2015) generated 5.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP). About 5% of the state’s area is used for arable farming, but the total area used in the context of multi-year land shifting with shifting cultivation is significantly larger; almost 30% are pasture land. For self-sufficiency, maize (staple food, but also an export product), cassava, rice, potatoes, millet and vegetables are mainly grown in subsistence agriculture; for export mainly tobacco, cotton, tea, sugar cane, peanuts, coffee and cut flowers. There are modern arable and livestock farms particularly in the southern and central provinces; some of them are in foreign ownership.

Forestry: Around two thirds of the country’s area is designated as forest. Forestry (eucalyptus, dry pines) is primarily a supplier to the mining and paper industry. 88% of the logging is used as firewood.

Fisheries: Lake Bangweulus, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kariba are the centers of inland fishing, which is mainly operated for personal use.

Natural resources

Mining generates around three quarters of export revenues. As one of two countries that starting with letter Z listed on Countryaah, Zambia is one of the world’s largest copper producers. Copper ore was already mined in pre-colonial times in today’s production areas in the Copperbelt. The cobalt produced as a by-product of copper ore smelting is of great importance for export. Funding is also provided, among other things. Bituminous coal (near Lake Kariba), zinc, small amounts of lead, silver and gold. Many of the originally state-owned mines have been bought up by large South African and American corporations in recent years. Chinese companies are also investing in Zambia’s mining industry.

Energy industry

The most important energy source is hydropower. The largest hydropower plants are located on the Kafue and the Zambezi (on the north side of the Karibadamm and at the Victoria Falls), but due to the strongly fluctuating amounts of rain, the generation of electricity is very different. Zambia exports electricity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Angola.


The manufacturing industry (with mining and construction) generated (2015) 35.3% of GDP. The most important industrial locations are Lusaka and Ndola in the Copperbelt. In addition to the iron and steel industry (processing of copper and other ores), there is mainly the food, textile, paper, chemical and metal industries. This makes Zambia one of the few countries in Africa that has an industrial base.


The main attractions for the approximately 932,000 foreign visitors each year are the numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, the waterfalls (including the Victoria Falls [UNESCO World Heritage Site] of the Zambezi) and the Kariba Lake. In addition to the guests from overseas, the interest of South Africans to travel to the country is also increasing, including more and more people from the growing black African middle class. Safaris, trophy hunting and sport fishing are designed to attract tourists.

Zambia: Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls of the Zambezi are on the border of Zimbabwe and Tanzania. They belong to the UNESCO world natural heritage.

Africa: Victoria Falls

View of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe / Zambia border; the river Zambezi plunges about 110 m down here. The Victoria Falls have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989.


There are around 2,140 km of railway lines in Zambia. The most important railway lines run from the Copperbelt via Lusaka to Livingstone (connection to the ports in the Republic of South Africa and Mozambique), the Benguela Railway in the north (to the port of Lobito in Angola) and the Tanzam Railway (to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania). Of the approximately 67,700 km of roads, only around 9,400 km are paved, including the main connections to Botswana, Tanzania and Malawi. The southern end point for shipping on Lake Tanganyika is Mpulungu. International airports have Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone.

Zambia Economy