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 and growth continued in 2022, when the country recorded a GDP growth of 2.9%, underpinned by recovery in the mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. In 2023 and 2024, growth is expected to pick up to 4% and 4.2%, respectively, with private consumption being its main driver.

In 2022, general government balance closed at -1.8% of GDP in 2022, a rate which is expected to widen to -3.7% in 2023, before reaching -0.7% in 2024. That same year, the country recorded an inflation rate of 12.5%, a rate which should decrease to 9.6% in 2023 and 7.7% in 2024, 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, boosting consumption. Underlying this projection is the positive impact of higher copper prices mainly through the exchange rate. According to the last available data, 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 remained substantial, mainly due to increased government spending - including on fuel, agricultural input subsidies, and election-related spending. Although the pandemic has significantly impacted the Zambian economy, the country has been recovering, with the government implementing measures to counteract the economic crisis resulting from it. 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). In 2022, the unemployment rate in the country was at 13.2% (ILO Estimate), with youth unemployment being particularly high, leading more young people in Zambia venture in businesses to counter unemployment.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 29.7429.5431.0433.5036.23
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,4861,4361,4691,5431,626
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%) n/a10.
Current Account (billions USD)
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Zambian Kwacha (ZMW) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 2.582.192.282.483.28

Source: World Bank, 2015


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Latest Update: December 2023