“We will overcome the challenges of low commodity prices,” Inonge Wina, the vice-president of Zambia, told press at a UK-Zambia trade forum hosted by Developing Markets Associates in London.

The southern African country of 15 million has suffered severe blows to its economy following China’s economic slowdown and the subsequent drop in global commodities prices. Experts say commodities prices are at their lowest point this century, causing Zambia to lose 50% of its income.


Between 70% and 85% of Zambia’s export revenue is in copper, and China is the number one recipient, taking 42% of its exports. Zambia’s second-biggest export partner South Africa receives just 7%.

To counter this downward trend, Zambia’s government is encouraging foreign investment in a number of different sectors, including agriculture, energy and tourism.

“We are experiencing a lot more interest from European investors – German, French, Turks and here in the UK – there is a significant increase in their interest in investment in Zambia,” said Margaret Mwanakatwe, Zambia’s minister of commerce, trade and industry.

Agriculture is a growing area of interest for European investors, says Ms Mwanakatwe, and the government has allocated 100,000-hectare farm blocks in each of the country’s 10 provinces for development.

Forestry and energy are other areas for investment; solar power projects are expected to generate 700 megawatts of power in the next 12 months and the country has an estimated 6000 megawatts of unexploited hydropower potential.

Coal, wind and biomass are also significant potential energy sources for Zambia that have yet to be fully exploited. As electricity shortage and regular power outages are a persistent problem, alternative sources of energy are increasingly important.

“From 2004 to 2014, FDI has been at a positive incline, in particular from 2011, when our current administration came into office. We have seen a distinct growth in FDI inflows, topping $2.5bn as of 2014,” noted Patrick Chisanga, director general of Zambia Development Agency.

“We hope that what we’re seeing now leads to a new surge of real investments into Zambia. The 4.5% to 5% growth that we are projecting is real and it is sustainable,” he added.

For the time being, however, Zambia’s full recovery will remain heavily dependent on whether and when China sees an economic rebound.