13 March 2018

Zambia: Copper Boom Is Back, Will Zambia Benefit?


Today, the prices of copper and cobalt, the minerals in which Zambia has the largest stake, have risen at an unprecedented high rate of $7,000 and $80,000 per tonne respectively. This increase in price of these two minerals is a great opportunity for the economy of Zambia. The big question, therefore, is whether Zambia is prepared to draw maximum benefits from the new boom? By CLAUDE KABEMBA and EDWARD LANGE.

Zambia's entire economy is dependent on copper. It has been like this since the country attained independence in October 1964. Copper defines Zambia. Since privatisation in early 90s, the mining sector has attracted Canadian, Chinese, Indian, Australian and American mining companies. At some stage, Zambia was the biggest African producer of copper until the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) overtook it in 2013.

Still, Zambians have consistently monitored the health of the mining sector, knowing its contribution to the overall economy. Thus, when the price of copper goes up, hopes are raised that lives will change and when the price goes down, fears abound of operations scaling down, leading to massive job losses and a decline in contributions to the fiscus. That there already is in place a problematic...


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