Doing Business in Africa: Zambia Business Environment

zambia business environmentMany South African companies are doing business with other African countries every day. Our part is assisting with visas. We wanted to extend this to providing information on countries too, as we are sure you and many other employers are exploring African business right at this moment.

Our Doing Business in Africa series will share information on the business environment of African countries over the next couple of months. We will initially cover the countries our current clients deal with most and move on to other countries after.

First up is the Zambia business environment.

Zambia’s economic outlook

The Business Day reported in April that Zambia’s economy is expected to grow 3.7% in 2016. This is very little movement from 2015’s growth of 3.6%. The main culprit for the curtailed growth is said to be a declining demand for copper, Zambia’s main export.

At the other end of the scale, the interest in Zambia’s national parks and game reserves have increased among international visitors. So much, in fact, that Zambia was revealed to be among the top three fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world in 2015.

Why invest in Zambia?

Zambia recognise the value of foreign investment and have created an economic environment that encourage investment:

  • Zambia have removed exchange control regulations and deregulated prices and interest rates.
  • There are no restrictions on the repatriation of profit, dividends and capital.
  • Investment protection and guaranteed private property rights.
  • Zambia’s trade regime is export focused, with reduced tariffs and most export controls lifted.

Other attractive features are Zambia’s vast resources in terms of land, labour and water, indicating a high potential for expansion and development. This is particularly appealing to foreign investors interested in agricultural production.

Lastly, Zambia is a member of a number of regional and international groupings and is strategic in its location – Zambia offer direct access to other Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) markets and the Free Trade Area of the South African Development Community (SADC).

Challenges presented in the Zambia business environment

No economic environment is without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing the Zambian economy in particular is within the energy sector. The country has been plagued by power outages. The majority of Zambia’s energy comes from hydro power and recent droughts have understandably put this resource under pressure.

The M&B African Sentiment Survey revealed a number of other challenges. Businesses in Zambia reported these 10 areas to be most challenging to them:

  1. Access to affordable financing.
  2. Increasing competition.
  3. Marketing techniques, including online, social and traditional.
  4. Growth strategy.
  5. Strategic business planning.
  6. Logistics and distribution.
  7. Information technology (IT).
  8. Slow and inconsistent communication networks.
  9. Access to human capital.
  10. Navigating bureaucracy and red tape.

M&B, Maysen & Borowski Zambia, also surveyed businesses trying to enter the Zambian market. Among these businesses, the following challenges were deemed to be the largest:

  1. Hard to find useful and recent information on procedures.
  2. Sovereign risk.
  3. Corruption.
  4. Ease of business and getting things done.
  5. Government integrity.

A closing word, from Zambia

Zambian Ambassador in Belgium, Ms. Grace M. Mutale Kabwe, was asked in an interview with UNITEE, what advice she has for the business community in the EU and beyond seeking to invest in Zambia.

This was her answer:

“Doing business in Africa has sometimes been tagged as being frustrating and at times too bureaucratic. We, as Zambia, are proud to mention tha the Government of the Republic of Zambia has taken several strides to easing the process of setting up a business for both local and foreign entities.

The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) was established in 2006 after the amalgamation of five statutory bodies that hitherto operated independently to foster economic growth and development by promoting trade and investment. The ZDA’s primary mandate is to effectively and efficiently promote and facilitate investment, trade and competitiveness of business in Zambia.”

Contact Intergate Africa for help with Zambian visas

Should you decide to do business with Zambia, you can contact our African division for assistance with business and work visas. With their expert knowledge and experience, our African immigration consultants are in the perfect position to help you.

You can reach the Johannesburg team at +27 (0) 11 234 4275 and the Cape Town team at +27 (0) 21 424 2460. Alternatively, request a call back and one of our consultants will contact you instead. Just one more way we make immigration easier for you.

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