Zambia – The Diversity of Africa

Formerly called Northern Rhodesia as an integral part of Cecil Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo Vision, Zambia celebrates its 55th Independence Day today, Kenneth Kaunda was appointed the first Prime Minister of the country and later the President in the same year in 1964 as Zambia adopted the Presidential system. The country which took its name from the Mighty Zambezi River, the fourth-longest river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa is also home to the spectacular and majestic Victoria Falls also known as ‘’Mosi-o-Tunya’’ (The smoke that thunders), one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the largest water falls in the world surpassing the magnificent Niagara and Iguazu Falls.

Zambia GDP was standing at US$26.72 billion as at December 2018 and its economy is a commodity dependent, mainly driven by minerals especially copper in which it’s the Second largest producer in Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo and 8th in the world with the production 861,946.19 tonnes as at 2018. The country is rich in mineral resources like Gold, Uranium, Manganese, silver, cobalt, coal, lead, zinc, emeralds and other semiprecious gemstones. Besides the minerals, the country has 42 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture production yet only 14% is being utilised. The available land per capita is higher than it is for most developing countries in southern Africa (World Bank ,2018). The country also holds about 35% of southern Africa total natural water resource. Its major exports are Raw copper, Refined Copper, Cobalt, Raw Tobacco, cereals and its major imports are Copper ore, Cobalt Oxide and Hydroxides, Refined Petroleum, Crude Petroleum and Nitrogenous Fertilisers.

The country is currently battling with external debt which has kept increasing to US$10.23Billion and domestic debt, US$ 4.62 billion as at June 2019.The external debt servicing cost has also gone up to US$759 million as at December 2018.The four main external debt categories are Multilateral, Bilateral, Export and Supplier credit and Commercial debt of which Commercial debt is at 53 % which is the country’s biggest headache. Eurobonds account for 57% of the commercial debt and its first maturity will be in 2022 after Population census in 2020 and general election in 2021 (ZIPAR 2019).

On the Neil Economic scale, the price of a can of Coke is 7.56 Zambian Kwacha (R8.44) and the price of a liter of petrol is 14.06 Kwacha (R15.69). In August 2019 the country’s inflation rate stood at 9.3% from 7.9% in December 2018 and economic growth rate is projected to close at 2% at the end of 2019 (KPMG 2019)

The government has embarked on massive infrastructure projects in the Transport sector to: (1) Decongest Lusaka City under the Lusaka Decongestion Project, (2) Upgrading the four international airports namely, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA), Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Mfuwe. The Lusaka decongestion project is being financed by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and Exxim Bank of India at 15% and 85% respectively at a cost of $389 million. The KKIA has reached 75 percent completion with an estimated total cost of $360 million upon completion. With all the infrastructure development the Rail sector remains the dominant mode of transportation for goods on the local and international routes.

So with such a diverse nation of more than 70 language dialects, a multitude of mineral resources and a landlocked nation surrounded by 7 African nations, Zambia the country of water has more brightness in its future than ever. Today Zambia celebrates 55 years of Independence and President Lunga leads his nation to be stunning as The Diversity of Africa !