Why You Should Invest in Zambia

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In this post, we will be taking a look at why you should invest in Zambia. The south African country shares borders with Angola and Namibia to the west, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique to the east, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the North, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to the south. It has an area size of 0.753 million square kilometres, a landlocked country, hence, it relies on the transport routes of neighboring countries.

Major investment opportunities in Zambia includes:

  •  Mining
  • Agricultural
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing
  • Energy

Why You Should Invest In Zambia

Now let's delve into the subject matter. Zambia like we said in the introduction is a country located in Southern Africa. It shares borders with Angola and Namibia to the west, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique to the east, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the North, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to the south. It gained independence from the United Kingdom on 24 October 1964. It is a Presidential Republic with the President sitting as the Head of State and government. Its capital is Lusaka and has an administrative structure divided into 10 provinces.

Zambia runs a unicameral National Assembly which serves as the legislative arm of the government. English is the official language with over 70 local languages spoken. Christianity is a major religion. It has a mixed legal system that includes English common law and customary law.

It has an area size of 0.753 million square kilometers, a landlocked country, hence, it relies on the transport routes of neighboring countries. Zambia has an estimated population of 19.08 million comprising mostly of a younger population less than 25 years which makes up about 65.8 percent of the population, those in the age bracket of 25 to 64 years makes up about 32 percent of the population and above 65 years age group makes up about 2.2 percent of the population.

The average population density is estimated at 23.3 inhabitants per square kilometer. In terms of human development indicators, it has a life expectancy of 67.8 years for Women and 64.2 years for Men. It achieved universal primary education with a 98.72 percent Primary enrolment rate in 2017 and an overall literacy level of 86.7 percent as at 2018.

Zambia’s economy is highly dependent on mining which includes: copper, cobalt, uranium, gold, diamonds, manganese, agriculture, hydroelectric, and tourism. Agriculture accounts for about 2.6 percent of GDP and employs about 54 percent of its workforce. The country has vast arable land with great potential for agriculture production, but the lands remain largely underexploited. Zambia’s dependency on copper which accounts for about 75 percent of the country’s export earnings makes Zambia vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities prices.


It is the 7th largest copper producing nation in the world. In recent years, the country has witnessed slow economic growth due to a fall in the price of copper, a slowdown in mining activity, severe drought on agricultural and hydroelectric production. The country’s public finance is experiencing strain as debt levels remain elevated particularly non concessional external debt like Eurobonds, loans from Chinese institutions, syndicated loans, and other commercial sources placing Zambia at a high risk of debt distress.


From 21 percent GDP in 2011, public debt rose to 91.6 percent GDP in 2019. Real GDP growth slowed to an estimated 2 percent in 2019, down from 4.0 percent in 2018 while inflation rose from 7.5 percent in 2018 to 9.2 percent in 2019. Its currency is the Kwacha.


Main exports include copper, cobalt, cotton, flowers, electricity, tobacco etc. Major imports include petroleum products, foodstuff, machinery, consumer goods, fertilizer, electricity etc.


Investment Opportunities in Zambia

Ongoing implementation of Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan for 2017 to 2022 is expected to drive growth, creates jobs and sites for the country’s economic diversification. The plan identifies tourism, mining, energy, and agriculture as key sectors of focus and identifies infrastructure, access to markets, and information communication technology as growth enablers.

Agriculture investment in Zambia

For the Agricultural sector, the plan focuses on an integrated information system to support agribusinesses, farmer expansion, and extension service. The agriculture sector provides the greatest opportunity for impact and development. The sector generates around 21 percent of GDP and employs an estimated 67 percent of the national workforce of which most are smallholder farmers. Potentially arable land covers 47 percent of the country, but currently, only 15 percent is being cultivated. As a member of SADC and COMESA, Zambia has easy access to growing consumer markets. It is also strategically located near other booming countries, including Tanzania, Angola, and Mozambique. The government has moved slowly in liberalizing the production around the staple crops, including rice, millet, and cassava. Policy discussions and growing production gaps will create vast opportunities over the next five years. For example, the country offers zero corporate tax for the initial five years from the first year profits that are made in the agriculture sector.

Agro-processing of tobacco, soya beans, tea, and coffee will fill the coffers as their cash value stays strong and their processed and packaged end products garner more than 10 times the price in developed markets than the locally sold unprocessed product. Fishery also possesses great potential with 15 million hectares of water and a rapidly growing domestic consumption.

Opportunities exist in the Zambian manufacturing sector as manufacturing possesses the biggest opportunity for growth. The sector contributes slightly more than 8 percent to GDP, which is relatively small compared to other African countries. But the government’s introduction of Multi Facility Economic Zones complements other critical elements available to this sector which includes: cheap labor, vast raw materials, and abundant land. The government also introduced significant investment incentives of zero percent corporate tax for the first five years from the first year of profit, as well as zero import duties on raw materials, capital goods, and machinery for the first five years of operating in the zone which compares well to other countries in the Southern African Development Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

A booming mining sector boosts the demand for manufacturing locally and adds a significant amount of capital to local investment. New controversial mining tax laws will keep more money onshore and complement a relatively strong banking sector. Domestic consumption of manufactured products, including agricultural fertilizers and construction materials, has skyrocketed as Zambians’ pockets have grown based on GDP per capita by an average of 14 percent annually from 2009 to 2012. There is no sign that this demand will slow down any time soon, especially since the International Monetary Fund predicts Zambia to be the 9th fastest growing in the world from 2011 to 2015.

Electricity and Power also have huge investment potentials in Zambia Despite tremendous economic growth, Zambia still grapples with power outages, specifically during peak hours. Experts estimate that the country needs to double power generation capacity over the next five years. The government continues to pursue aggressive opportunities such as the development of transmission inter connectors with neighboring countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Zambia possesses 6,000 Mega Watts worth of potential energy from hydropower, yet the country has only developed 1,700 Mega Watts of that potential. Installed capacity is estimated at 1,800 Mega Watts, of which only 1,400 Mega Watts is believed to be available. Peak demand of approximately 1,725 Mega watts and a 10 percent required reserve requirement underscores the opportunity for developing hydropower.

The removal of fuel subsidies earlier this year continues to push up gasoline and diesel prices. The price increase consequently raises business costs and the inefficiency of using fuel products as energy sources. Rising demand for power especially as the country tries to boost access to electricity at 18.5 percent of the population as of 2012 will weigh heavily on the current power infrastructure. Investing in power may be the most imperative measure for the government if the mining sector is to continue its rise.

Tourism is another viable investment opportunity

Zambia's tourism sector continues to grow. Between 1995 and 2007, the number of visitors to Zambia increased eightfold, reaching 897,000 arrivals. While the recent international financial crisis negatively affected the tourist industry, dropping the number of arrivals to 710,000 in 2009, the tourism industry made a quick recovery. In 2010, the number of arrivals to Zambia was 815,000 and it was estimated that there were 950,000 arrivals in 2011. With the growing number of tourists, the development of hotels, holiday resorts, and private estates in identified and famous tourist destinations of the country presents an excellent investment opportunity. There is a huge demand for private investors to build ultra-modern hotel lodges and conference centers.


Under explored opportunities in Zambia's tourism sector

Eco-tourism and adventure activities

Eco-tourism is still under-exploited in Zambia. With abundant nature and wilderness, this segment of tourism offers exciting investment opportunities. Opportunities exist in safaris canoeing, game drives, nature walks, Bungee jumping, Microlight flights, Sportfishing, Rock-climbing, and Orienteering.

Cultural tourism

Zambia’s population is predominantly rural with only about 40 percent of the population being in urban areas while the remaining 60 percent lives in the rural parts of the country. The population is quite diverse with a total of 73 languages. However, the major and most commonly spoken languages are Bemba, Lozi, Nyanja, Tonga, Lunda, and Luvale. Each is distinguished from the other by unique and colorful traditional customs and lifestyles. Of great significance among the local customs, and must visits are the several cultural festivals held annually to celebrate various events and seasons. Of these, there are six major ones namely Kulamba, Kuomboka, Umutomboko, Likumbi Lya Mize, Nc’walaand Shimunenga ceremonies.


Nc’wala Ceremony

The Nc’wala ceremony, held by the Ngoni people of the Eastern Zambia every last Saturday of February, celebrates the harvest. The ceremony is marked by magnificent tribal dances and traditional beer drinking.

Kuomboka Ceremony

The glamorous and most famous Kuomboka ceremony is held by the Lozi people of Western Zambia annually in either March or April to mark the migration of the people from the flooded plains to higher ground. The move is prompted by the flooding arising from the rains.

Umutomoko Ceremony

The Umutomoko Ceremony of the Lunda speaking people of Luapula Province in north Zambia is held every last Saturday of July at chief Kazembe’s Palace.

Likumbi Lya Mize Ceremony

The Likumbi Lya Mize of the Luvale people of North-Western Zambia is held in August on the last Saturday of the month at the Mize palace of the Senior Chief Ndungu in Zambezi Shimunenga Ceremony.
Investment opportunities in cultural tourism include:

Packaging cultural ceremonies to local and foreign tourists

Community/Ethno/Rural Tourism where tourists visit model villages to learn about the Zambian way of living

Investments opportunities also exist in movie tourism. Tax concessions are provided to movie production companies and other film makers for shooting the movies on location in the country.

Investment Incentives In The Tourism Sector

The Zambia Development Agency Act No. 11 of 2006 offers a wide range of incentives in the form of tax incentives, non-fiscal incentives, exemptions & concessions for companies. The Act provides for investment thresholds that investors have to meet to qualify for fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

In the mining sector, it plans to diversify beyond copper and boost the sector’s capacity. Zambia is endowed with various mineral resources including copper, cobalt, lead, and zinc which are the most developed. Other minerals found in Zambia include gold, nickel, iron, and magnesium. There are also gemstones such as emeralds, amethyst, aquamarine, rubies, garnets, and diamonds. The abundance of mineral resources provides great investment opportunities in the mining sector especially in the areas of exploration for new mineral deposits, gemstone cutting and polishing, the establishment of new mines, and reclaiming copper from slug tailing dumps.

Foreign Direct Investment in Zambia

Although there were exceptional cases of FDI in Zambia before 1991, it was not captured in detail and data in some cases are unavailable. Notably, significant FDI was present in mining in 1982 when ZIMCO was converted to Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines. ZCCM itself was a result of a merger between the Zambian government controlling 60.3 percent, Anglo American Corporation with 27.3 percent shareholding interest, and the remaining 12.4 percent by other private investors. With the previous regime having strong protectionist policies, the environment was not exactly conducive for foreign investment. However, this changed with the liberalization of the economy in 1991.

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