Zambia: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Zambia

Formal or semi-formal business attire is expected at business meetings. Punctuality is appreciated but it’s not unusual for business appointments to run very late. English is widely used in business circles but if you know a few words of greeting in your colleague or associate’s own language and make the effort to use them, this will be greatly appreciated. The exchange of business cards forms an important part of greeting new acquaintances.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1300 and 1400-1700.

Economy

Zambia has experienced strong economic growth in recent years but poverty remains a problem, thanks partly to high birth rates and the effects of HIV/AIDS.

The Zambian economy relies heavily on the country's mineral wealth, particularly copper (of which Zambia is one of the world's largest producers), and also cobalt and zinc. These account for the bulk of export earnings and provide essential raw materials for Zambia's manufacturing industry, which accounts for over one-third of national output. High global prices for copper and a steady increase in output from the copper mines, which have been privatised since the 1990s and have received foreign investment, have both contributed to a growth in prosperity.

Apart from raw material processing, the manufacturing sector includes vehicle assembly and oil refining as well as the production of fertilisers, textiles, construction materials and a variety of consumer products.

Agriculture, particularly maize and cattle farming, produces 14% of GDP and employs 85% of the population. Zambia's hydroelectric projects have allowed it to become a net exporter of energy.

GDP

US$20.68 billion (2012).

Main exports

Copper, cobalt, electricity, tobacco and flowers.

Main imports

Machinery, transport equipment, petroleum products, fertilisers and foodstuffs.

Main trading partners

Keeping in Touch in Zambia

Telephone

There are public telephones and most calls are made through a post office.

Mobile phone

Mobile phone ownership and usage is rising all the time in Zambia and by early 2012, well over 60% of the population had a mobile. Mobile coverage can be patchy in some rural areas but is generally good around Lusaka, Livingstone and the other main towns and cities. In some areas rural frequented by tourists, such as South Luangwa National Park, mobile phone masts have been installed for the benefit of local workers and guests.

For visitors who would prefer to avoid roaming charges when making and receiving calls, local SIM cards are easily available. SIM cards from the main service providers, Airtel (www.africa.airtel.com) and MTN (www.mtn.com), can be bought at mobile phone shops at the airport and in the main towns and cities.

Internet

There are internet cafés in Lusaka, Livingstone and the other main towns and cities. These are good value but connection speeds can be slow and power cuts sometimes occur. Many hotels and safari lodges provide Wi-Fi for their guests. This is usually free but a small charge may apply.

Post

Airmail to Western Europe or North America takes 7 to 14 days.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1700, Sat 0800-1300 (closed Sunday and public holidays).

Media

State-run radio and TV services dominate Zambia's broadcast media. Private radio stations offer little political reporting. The state also controls the principal daily and Sunday newspapers, The Zambia Daily Mail and The Times of Zambia. Libel and security laws can be used by authorities to intimidate journalists, especially those reporting on corruption. Defaming the president is a crime.

Edited by Jane Duru
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