Zambia is a large, landlocked, resource-rich country, with sparsely populated land, in the center of Southern Africa. It shares its border with eight countries (Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) that serve as an expanded market for its goods.
Zambia is experiencing a sharp demographic shift and is one of the world’s youngest countries by median age. Its population, much of it urban, is estimated at about 18.9 million (2021), and is growing rapidly at 2.9% per year, resulting in the likelihood of it doubling close to every 25 years. This trend is expected to continue as its large population of youth enters reproductive age, putting even more pressure on the demand for jobs, health care, and other social services.
The Zambian economy rebounded in 2021, with GDP growing at 4.6%, from a contraction of 2.8% during the pandemic in 2020. Its recovery was driven by high copper prices, post-election market confidence, and continued recovery in agriculture. Economic activity has remained positive in the first half of 2022. GDP grew by 2.4% y-o-y in 2022Q1, supported by a pick-up in services that offset declines in agriculture, mining, and industry. A strong trade surplus in the first half of the year has continued to support a healthy current account surplus. Similarly, the kwacha exchange rate has maintained relative stability after a sharp appreciation in the post-election period, buoyed by favorable market sentiment and copper earnings. GDP is projected to grow by 3.8% over 2022–24, buoyed by an improved macroeconomic environment; a positive copper price outlook and stable and predictable mining policy environment; and improved electricity supply. This outlook is anchored in the government’s implementation of macro-fiscal reforms it outlined in its 2023–25 medium-term budget, which is aimed at restoring fiscal sustainability and credibility, re-orienting expenditure (away from inefficient subsidies to more social spending) and bringing public services closer to the communities. The implementation of structural reforms aimed at removing market distortions and bringing financial sustainability to the energy sector (electricity and petroleum), improving transparency, and fighting corruption, will also be critical to achieving this growth path. It also assumes timely and comprehensive debt restructuring under the G-20 Common Framework for Debt Treatment.
Zambia gained its independence in 1964, under the leadership of its first president, Kenneth Kaunda. After many years of a one-party state, Zambia became a multi-party state in 1991. The nation is considered a stable country, with elections held every five years. Nine Presidential elections have taken place since independence, and four different political parties have so far ruled the country. Among them are the United National Independence Party (UNIP 1964-1991), Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD 1996-2011), Patriotic Front (PF2011-2021), and the current United Party for National Development (UPND). President Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND was elected in August 2021, after defeating the then-incumbent President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front. The next presidential elections in Zambia will be held on August 12, 2026.
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2022