• Overview

    Zambia's economy continued to recover in 2017 but, despite a bumper harvest, improved electricity generation, and an easing of monetary policy, growth remained subdued at 3.8% due to weak performances by the services, mining, and construction sectors. Growth is, however, forecast to strengthen to 4.5% in 2018 and 4.7% in 2019. Hard hit by lower copper prices and domestic pressures, including a poor harvest after an El-Nino induced drought in 2015, a power crisis, and political uncertainty in the lead-up to 2016 elections, in 2015 the economy had tumbled to its lowest since 1998, with growth registering just 2.9%.

    Large and landlocked in the center of southern Africa, Zambia shares several of its key geographical and economic features with neighboring Zimbabwe—the Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba (and its hydroelectric capacity), and a stretch of the Zambezi River. It also borders the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika and Tanzania, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, and Malawi. Its population, much of it urban, is estimated at about 16.5 million (2016).

    Though stable for most of its post-colonial history, the country entered a new phase when President Edgar Lungu and his Zambia’s Patriotic Front (PF) government were re-elected in a closely contested presidential race in August 2016. Lungu's main rival, Hakainde Hichilema, was detained for several months in 2017; international mediation secured his release. The election gave Lungu a five-year mandate. He has called for an end to moral decay and national transformation to address high levels of poverty. Zambia will revise its Lands Act to avoid the indiscriminate and illegal sale of land in the country. The need to revise the act was initiated by Lungu, who observed the government needed to come up with revisions that guarantee sovereignty over land, a key natural heritage.

    Inflation declined to 6.5% in May 2017 (from a peak of above 20% in February 2016) and, together with a more stable kwacha, led the central bank to ease monetary policy, reversing the pressure on credit growth. Stronger growth and better macroeconomic indicators have not led, however, to improved fiscal indicators. A Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) is currently being prepared to augment the World Bank’s understanding of the sort of mechanics needed for poverty reduction in Zambia. It will also be used to inform the Bank’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which is being developed for 2017–2021.

    Meanwhile, the Government of Zambia has launched its 7th National Development Plan, 2017–2021. The theme "Accelerating Development Efforts Towards Vision 2030 Without Leaving Anyone Behind,” calls for a fundamental shift in the way resources are allocated. It has 5 pillars:

    • Economic diversification and job creation
    • Poverty and Vulnerability
    • Reduced Developmental Inequalities
    • Enhancing Human Development
    • Conducive Governance Environment for Economic Diversification

    The strategic goal of the 7th National Development Plan is to create a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and social economic development. It will also include a results-oriented, performance management system to be used to measure the progress of its implementation.

    Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017

  • World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for Zambia

    The World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Zambia for fiscal 2013-2016 is closely aligned with the Zambian government’s Vision 2030 and Zambia’s National Development Plans. The plans are organized around the theme of broad based wealth and job creation through citizenry participation and technological advancement. Specific development goals are to foster a competitive and outward-oriented economy in order to significantly reduce hunger and poverty and reach middle income status.

    The CPS has two areas of special emphasis. First, because of the potential fiscal windfall coming from the boom in copper export prices, the CPS supports improved expenditure management and effective use of revenue in collaboration and monitoring with the government and local stakeholders, to benefit as many households as possible.

    Second, because of the significant gaps between urban and rural areas, and the need for increased access to regional markets, the CPS supports a program of investments in infrastructure that will increase economic opportunities for all Zambians through improved connectivity and integration, resulting in increased competitiveness.

    Currently, infrastructure (roads, water and electricity), accounts for about 60% of the Bank’s portfolio, and the average life of a project is 3.8 years. The other sectors have continued to decline and their shares are currently as follows: environment (11%), agriculture (10%), finance and private sector development (8%), the public sector (8%), and human development (5%). Grants now account for about 18%of the current total net commitments while credits are at 82%.

    The World Bank (WB) is conducting the systematic country diagnosis and will be presenting its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to the World Bank Board in FY17. The strategy is aligned with the government’s development priorities. In a country that displays both low income and middle income characteristics, the strategy supports three objectives that speak to the dual nature of Zambia’s development challenges and opportunities:

    • Reducing poverty and the vulnerability of the poor
    • Improving competitiveness and infrastructure for growth and employment
    • Improving governance and strengthening economic management  

    Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017

  • Controlling livestock diseases in Zambia

    The World Bank is supporting the Government of Zambia to control livestock diseases of an epidemic nature with the potential to have a negative trans-boundary (regional/international) impact. It is also trying to improve the productivity of smallholders by focusing on selected farm animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, and pigs. This support includes strengthening local veterinary services and the controls for animal diseases and tackling other identified constraints, as well as supporting productive investment and improving technology transfer and access to advisory services.

    The Livestock Development and Animal Health Project has helped about 253,000 smallholders, of which 32% are women, with animal health services and matching grants. Their number is due to reach 390,000 by June 2018. The number of districts with endemic Contagious Bovine Pleuro Pneumonia (CBPP) has been reduced by more than half—from 18 in 2012 to 7 in 2016. Cattle mortality rates have declined because of vaccination campaigns for CBPP, Foot and Mouth, East Coast Fever, and the cattle population has increased. Closing stock for smallholder cattle was 2.16 million in 2012, and this increased to 2.89 million in 2015 (source, IAPRI).

    Improving maternal, neonatal, child health (MNCH), and nutrition in Zambia

    In line with improving maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) care and nutrition, as reflected in the government’s National Health Strategic Plan (2011–2016), the World Bank is supporting Zambia to accelerate maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition outcomes. It also seeks to contribute to strengthening service delivery systems and reduce inequality in five, under-served provinces. The Health Services Improvement Project has contributed to an increase in childbirth deliveries attended to by skilled health providers in project areas, from a baseline of 27% in 2013 to 45% in 2016. The project end target is 57%.

    Helping Keep Girls in School

    The cost of secondary education remains a constraint in terms of keeping girls in school in Zambia, unlike primary education, for which tuition is free. The cost of secondary education is often prohibitive for the poorest families. In June, 2016, the Government of Zambia launched the $65 million, World Bank-funded Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) Project.

    The project is supporting Zambia to increase its livelihood support for women and to increase secondary education for disadvantaged adolescent girls in extremely poor households in selected districts. It aims to provide 14,000 girls with secondary school bursaries, and 75,000 women with productivity grants to start small businesses.

    A year on, the outcome of this intervention is visible. The project is sponsoring 8,669 girls by paying their tuition fees. In Gwembe, a small, rural district a 3-hour drive from Lusaka, the bursary allows girls to go back to school. The project is also in the process of targeting roughly 12,000 women in 11 districts with higher than average poverty rates for the first phase of the livelihoods support intervention.

    Sustainable Management of the Nyika Transfrontier Conservation Area

    The Nyika Transfrontier Conservation Area, which traverses Malawi and Zambia, has unique natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Nyika National Park has spectacular scenery with the potential to attract significant revenue from nature-based tourism. The area is one of Africa's Centers of Plant Diversity, as well as one of its conservation priorities. It is also an Endemic Bird Area. But various challenges threaten this and limit the chances of sustainable, equitable development for its stakeholder communities.

    These challenges include high rates of deforestation, poor management capacity in some protected areas, and extensive poaching. Through the Sustainable Management of the Nyika Transfrontier Conservation Area Project, the World Bank is contributing toward improving the management of the Nyika Transfrontier area by supporting the more effective management of biodiversity in the area.

    As result of the support, signs of illegal activity in Nyika National Park have been reduced from 0.22 to 0.11 because 65% of the park area is now being patrolled. The abundance indices of elephants, buffaloes, and zebras have increased: Elephants from 156 to 310, Buffalo 99 to 164, and Zebra 112 to 279.

    Supporting Financial inclusion in Zambia

    The World Bank is supporting the government to implement the Zambia Financial Inclusion Country Support Program. The Financial Inclusion Country Support Project includes the provision of advisory services, capacity building, and knowledge, as well as convening services for policy and also regulatory reforms to promote financial inclusion that build on existing projects and advisory services. A Country Support Program (CSP) has been developed by the World Bank team in partnership with the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Bank of Zambia (BoZ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA).

    Zambia now has its first National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), and a well-functioning Secretariat that supports the NFIS implementation.

    Strengthening Climate Resilience in Zambia

    Zambia's climate is highly vulnerable to climate change, with frequent droughts, seasonal and flash floods, extreme temperatures and dry spells. The frequency of floods and drought has increased over three decades, especially in the Barotse sub-basin in Western Province. They are estimated to be costing the Zambian economic 0.4% in annual economic growth per year. To mitigate the effect of climate change, the Bank is supporting the government to strengthen its institutional framework for climate resilience, and to help improve the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities in the Barotse sub-basin. A total of 180,000 people are expected to benefit from the project.

    The Strengthening Climate Resilience Project has supported improving canals in the floodplains. Thirty-four secondary and tertiary canals have been rehabilitated, providing additional land to over 2,000 households; and (ii) in Mbeta Island of Sioma district, a natural lagoon is helping 66 vulnerable households (57 female-headed) to integrate fish farming, thus diversifying their sources of livelihood and promoting the use of a hitherto untapped resource. For sustainability, a National Standard Norms and Procedures Manual for the operation and maintenance of the canals has been developed. 

    Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017

  • The World Bank Group’s strategy adheres to the principles agreed with other Cooperating Partners supporting Zambia development efforts as articulated in the Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia (JASZ) and comprises highly selective targeted interventions that maximize the impact of government’s development efforts.

    The World Bank Group

    World Bank (WB) support to Zambia commenced in 1955, well before attaining its independence in 1964. As of March 2016, the WB has 14 active projects, including eight national International Development Association-financed projects with a net commitment amount of $577 million, two trust-funded projects ($53m) and four regional projects valued at $225 million. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is planning to reinstall its Resident Representative in the Lusaka Country Office in the near future.

    The IFC has a significant portfolio in Zambia, mostly in agribusiness and financial services as well as manufacturing. The current IFC portfolio in Zambia includes 11 projects, totaling $215.3 million, which is made up of an investment portfolio of $55.9 million and pipeline to the value of $155.8 million. Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) are also providing support for Zambia’s development.

    MIGA has about $101 million in commitments in Zambia and guarantees are helping agriculture, livestock and aquaculture development. A MIGA guarantee for Agrivision Africa (formerly Chayton Africa) is helping a large commercial farm in the Copperbelt Province to achieve efficient agricultural practices and expand capacity of a grain processing facility, thereby providing substantial demonstration effect to other farms.

    MIGA has also supported the Silverlands Fund through a multi-country Master Reinsurance Contract with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in Silverlands Ranching Limited which is helping improve and develop a large cattle farm in Zimba, Southern Province.

    Regional Trade Facilitation

    Zambia has committed to implementing policy reforms to enhance trade along the North-South Corridor and other corridors. It is important that implementation of trade facilitation and administrative reforms, especially at border crossings, be accelerated in order to achieve goals of the North-South Corridor Conference in Lusaka in April 2009.

    Last Updated: Oct 12, 2017



Zambia: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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In Depth


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
Carlyn Hambuba
Communications Associate
Pyramid Plaza
Church Road, PO Box 35410
Lusaka, Zambia 10101
+260 211 373 218
Emmanuel Ngankam
Country Program Coordinator
1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433