Country Reports

Zambia Country Report

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Risk Level

Very High


Executive Summary

Confrontations between the Patriotic Front (PF)-led government and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) since 2016 have tested Zambia's stability following the return to multiparty politics in the 1990s.Zambia's Constitutional Court ruling in December 2018 that President Edgar Lungu can contest the 2021 elections to seek a third term as president is highly likely to strengthen his prospects of remaining the PF's prime presidential election candidate.Proposed constitutional reforms aimed at consolidating power and an increasing divide in the ruling PF administration over allegations of poor economic management and widespread corruption are likely to trigger anti-government protests and riots in Zambia ahead of the 2021 elections.The PF government is likely to aggressively target foreign mining operators with tax audits and increases; recent Zambian mining tax disputes with major miners indicate plans to improve fiscal revenues amid deteriorating public finances from rising domestic and external debt obligations, including maturing Eurobonds and Chinese loans. Nationalisation of mining operations remains unlikely, however, given potentially lengthy arbitration proceedings and the sector's importance as the largest source of foreign exchange, accounting for 70% of Zambia's exports.Discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a USD1.3-billion bailout will likely continue to be stalled amid rising external debt concerns. Discussions on the bail-out package have stalled over uncertainties over the actual size of Zambia's external liabilities and government unwillingness to commit to IMF-specified targets.IHS Markit expects Zambia's GDP growth rate to average 3.3% in 2019, from an estimated 3.0% in 2018. Low growth rates for the agricultural, mining, and retail trade sectors underline IHS Markit's overall GDP expectation for 2019 due to low rainfall and reduced electricity production.
Last update: January 31, 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 – notably the new sales tax – 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.

Last update: December 20, 2019



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.

Last update: December 24, 2019


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 Congo. Surplus weapons from former conflict zones add to the availability of illegal arms in the region.

Last update: January 15, 2020

War Risks

Interstate war between Zambia and its neighbours is unlikely. There has been sporadic friction with the Democratic Republic of 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.

Last update: December 24, 2019

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.

Last update: January 31, 2020

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

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


Last update: April 5, 2019