The smile of Africa – Aired June 2008

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Surrounded by 8 nations, Zambia is the source of 2 of the biggest rivers in Africa : the Zambezi and the Congo rivers.

In 1964, Zambia gained its independence from Great Britain. Today, the republic is one of the most urbanised countries in the region, with nearly 45% of its population living in big cities.

Historically, the Zambian economy was based on the copper mining industry. However today, the Zambian government is pursuing an economic diversification programme to reduce the country’s reliance on that sector. The government also offers various incentives to investors, and the results so far have been encouraging.

While the country is optimistic about meeting this goal, Zambia is one of the poorest nations in the world, and still faces some challenges.

Zambia is also a member of regional economic groupings which offer investors preferential tariff access to a total market potential of nearly 400 million people.

Today, the government is keen to do all it can to encourage more investors to choose the republic as a favoured investment destination.

Offering security in an often unstable region, Zambia is an obvious choice for an economic corridor. Her emerging financial sector is vibrant and well-supported by various services. The country already boasts a few major international players as part of its portfolio.

Zambia’s banking and monetary system has made significant progress in recent years due to the increasingly strict control of financial institutions.

All banking activities are regulated by the Central Bank, and the government is working to further develop financial services available in the country.

While the sector is still small by world standards, it is modernised and stable.

While the last few years have already seen growth in the financial sector, with a burgeoning middle-class, the time is ripe for the sector to expand even further now.

Market indicators at the moment show that investing in the Zambian financial sector promises to be a lucrative exercise.

Zambia has an abundance of energy resources, with its hydropower potential assessed at 6,000 megawatts. Its biomass cover which makes up about 80% of the total land area, is still reasonably rich.

At present, less than one-third of the energy potential in the country has been installed. In spite of surplus hydropower availability, the electricity grid penetration in the country is still very low. About 20% of the total population in urban areas has access to electricity. In rural areas, that number falls dramatically with a national grid that caters to only 2% of households.

Further, with increased developments and activities, the demand for energy has increased exponentially and greatly exceeds the supply available. This has resulted in unwelcome load shedding and is a cause for concern.

In view of this, the government is keen to increase the supply of energy that is available in the country, and is looking to get international players on board.
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Today, the main focus of Zambia’s energy policy is on liberalisation of the sector for private initiatives. The potential is considerable since the country has substantial energy resources that are not being used at the present time. The idea is that private initiatives could exploit these resources.

The government has introduced legislation and support mechanisms to encourage investment and minimize risk for those seeking to invest in the sector.

Much of AmstWhile most of the electricity in the country is supplied and distributed through a state-owned energy company, the mines in the Copperbelt area are supplied by a private utility company, Copperbelt Energy.

The government aims to provide electricity to all households in Zambia, and to this effect, is conducting studies into renewable energy sources like bio-fuels and solar energy.

Zambia is a must-visit tourism destination. Offering the unspoiled beauty of Africa, the country is a feast for all the senses.

Zambia’s largest attraction is the Victoria Falls, situated in Livingstone on the border with Zimbabwe. The 2 kilometre-wide Zambezi River drops more than 100 metres into a steep gorge, forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The Royal Livingstone Hotel, located at the edge of the waterfall, offers visitors the chance to sit on the banks of the Zambezi River and watch a spectacular sunset.

Almost 90 percent of the country is given over to national parks and game reserves. The Kafue National Park is the largest park in Zambia and one of the biggest in the world. It lies about 200 kilometres west of the capital Lusaka. A safari with an experienced guide through the park will offer you the experience of a lifetime.

Although it is one of the lesser-known destinations in Africa, Zambia has enjoyed considerable growth in tourist arrivals over the last few years.

As many of Zambia’s attractions are still well-preserved, the tourist numbers into the country are sure to surge in the coming years. Thus investment into this sector now is guaranteed to bring high returns.

With its history of relative stability since independence, English-speaking population, and fast-expanding middle-class, Zambia offers the discerning investor a highly promising venture.

The country’s strategic geographical location offering ready access to its surrounding neighbours further adds to the appeal of this sun-kissed nation.