Zambia flag Zambia: Economic outline

Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

The economy of Zambia, the second-largest copper producer in Africa after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is highly dependent on copper prices, which generate three-quarters of export earnings. The country's growth has slowed in recent years, due to the fall in the price of copper, but also to the consequences of the drought on agricultural and hydroelectric production, as well as the pandemic - which brought on the first recession recorded in the country since 1989. However, the economy resumed growing in 2021, when the country recorded a GDP growth of 1%, mainly thanks to high copper prices, the commissioning of the Kafue Gorge Lower hydroelectric plant, and a return to normal rainfall patterns. In 2022 and 2023, growth is expected to remain stable at 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively, with private consumption being its main driver.

In 2021, government deficit decreased thanks to higher mining revenues and a record dividend payment from the central bank, which put general government at the rate of 101%. Still, debt remain substantial in 2021 mainly due to increased government spending - including on fuel, agricultural input subsidies, and election-related spending. In 2022, however, the debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to slightly increase to 106.8%, and continue that upward trend in 2023, when it is expected to reach 109.2%. The country recorded an inflation rate of 22.8% in 2022, and it is expected to decrease to 19.2% in 2022 and 13% in 2023, on a continued downward trend toward the 6%-8% target range established by the central bank. With the easing of inflationary pressures, household incomes should benefit in 2022, boosting consumption. Underlying this projection is the positive impact of higher copper prices mainly through the exchange rate. In 2021, the government continued implementing various supportive measures to minimise the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Despite the efforts to contain the economic impact of the pandemic and ensure a quick recovery, the country's economic rebound has been slow but steady.

While Zambia achieved lower middle-income status in 2011, after a decade of strong growth, widespread and extreme rural poverty (half of Zambians still live in poverty) remains a significant problem and is compounded by a rate high birth rate and a relatively high burden of HIV/AIDS (one in eight Zambians has the virus). The coronavirus crisis has potentially affected 8 million people. The decision of the government not to subside the price of electricity to ease the burden on companies during the pandemic will have an impact on employment in the country. In 2020, the unemployment rate in the country was at 12.8% (ILO Estimate), with youth unemployment being particularly high, leading more young people in Zambia venture in businesses to counter unemployment.

Main Indicators 20202021202220232024
GDP (billions USD) 18.1121.3127.0328.8030.97
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 9591,0951,3481,3951,457
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 140.2119.
Inflation Rate (%) 15.722.
Current Account (billions USD) 2.181.62-0.48-1.06-0.22
Current Account (in % of GDP) 12.07.6-1.8-3.7-0.7

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Zambian Kwacha (ZMW) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GBP 13.9212.2513.9516.1323.52

Source: World Bank, 2015


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Latest Update: March 2023

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