Economy - overview: Zambia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the ten years up to 2014, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed during the period 2015 to 2017, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer.
Despite recent strong economic growth and its status as a lower middle-income country, widespread and extreme rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain significant problems, made worse by a high birth rate, a relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, and by market-distorting agricultural and energy policies. Zambia has raised $7 billion from international investors by issuing separate sovereign bonds in 2012, 2014, and 2015, significantly increasing the country’s public debt burden to 56% of GDP; the government plan refinanced $2.8 billion worth of Eurobonds in 2017 to cut debt servicing costs.
Poor management of water resources has also contributed to a power generation shortage, which has hampered industrial productivity and contributed to an increase in year-on-year inflation to more than 20% in 2016. Zambia’s currency, the kwacha, also depreciated sharply against the dollar through 2016, leading the central bank to restrict lending. Rampant spending in recent years has increased the fiscal deficit to over 8% in 2017 and may encourage the government to seek external financing from the IMF to fund the shortfall.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018