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Zambia Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Zambia remains highly exposed to lower COVID-19-induced global economic activity and its impact on copper prices, further deteriorating the country’s debt sustainability position. The country’s rising external debt burden (maturing Eurobonds and Chinese loans) has expanded debt-servicing costs greatly in recent years. Zambia’s fiscal conditions and rising debt burden have been a major stumbling-block in recent discussions between the IMF and the Zambian government and, reportedly, have prevented the country from obtaining COVID-19-related support from other international financial institutions. Discussions on an IMF bailout package and programme have stalled since 2017 despite renewed calls from some senior economic officials, including former finance minister Felix Mutati, for President Lungu to sign up to an IMF economic recovery programme.The PF government is likely to target aggressively foreign mining operators with tax audits and increases, as recent Zambian mining tax disputes with major miners indicate plans to improve fiscal revenues to address deteriorating public finances. The sector is the largest source of foreign exchange, accounting for 70% of Zambia's exports and 12% of GDP.IHS Markit expects Zambia’s GDP to contract by 4.0% in 2020, recovering to 2.1% growth in 2021. With the impact of COVID-19 filtering through to low-income economies, particularly in their ability to generate enough external liquidity, Zambian authorities have announced external debt restructuring by hiring advisers in May 2020.

Operational Outlook

Electricity shortages, aggravated by drought, continue to impact companies operating in Zambia. Industrial action, involving violent strikes and protests, resulting from demands for better pay and conditions in the public and private sectors is likely to continue, including in the key mining sector. Tax changes are generating increased protest risks, encouraging protest marches by small-business owners over increasing tax compliance enforcement and by mineworkers over job losses in the sector. New cost-reflective energy tariffs are likely to be implemented following the completion of a cost-of-service study.


No insurgent groups are active against the government. In the past several rebel groups from neighbouring countries, such as from former conflicts in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were known to have crossed into Zambian territory. In Zambia's Western province, secessionist sentiment poses a risk of sporadic civil unrest, including in the form of protests, riots, and violent confrontations with the security forces.


Violent crime, human trafficking, and minerals theft remain the main security risk. There is also a growing concern over drugs and human trafficking, as well as poaching. The theft of minerals such as copper and emeralds is commonplace. Amid a regional drought, there have been increasing reports of maize smuggling, including to neighbours such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Surplus weapons from former conflict zones add to the availability of illegal arms in the region.

War Risks

Interstate war between Zambia and its neighbours is unlikely. There has been sporadic friction with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including over detentions of Zambian fishermen by Congolese forces around Lake Mweru. Despite recurring insecurity in neighbouring DRC which has caused refugee inflows into Zambia, the likelihood of an interstate war involving Zambia remains low. Insecurity and protests, such as by road cargo operators, including over alleged bribe-taking and incidents of harassment, have led to temporary blockades and closures at Kasumbalesa border post. In January 2018, the Sakania and Kasumbalesa border points in the Copperbelt province were closed for some days to allow DRC’s long-delayed elections to be held.

Social Stability

Political violence with ethnic undertones, resulting in localised fighting between rival party supporters and confrontations with police, occurs usually in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of elections. Lusaka, the Copperbelt, and Southern province remain the hotspots for election-related unrest. The judicial ruling on the controversial constitutional amendment bill, due to be voted on by parliament in 2020, and the poor state of the economy sparked a wave of peaceful 'yellow card' protests in Lusaka. The bill is likely to be passed by parliament and it would pave the way for more repressive tactics against the opposition ahead of the 2021 election, intensifying unrest ahead of the polls.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over nine months of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam), doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin), or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Practical Information


Zambia has a tropical climate and three seasons: from May until August temperatures are temperate (10°C to 25°C) and dry; from September to November conditions are hot (20°C to 30°C) and dry; from December to April, conditions are hot (25°C to 32°) and rainy.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +260
Police: 991


Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal