The traditional focus of the Zambian economy has been mining and quarrying, in particular the mining and refining of copper and cobalt. The country holds ten percent of the world’s copper internationally. Zambia is also the world’s largest cobalt producer.
These metals made the country one of the most prosperous in southern Africa between 1965 and 1975, accounting for 95percent of export earnings and contributing 45 percent of Government revenues. In 2003 mining brought in US$730 million- 64 percent of total export revenue, making is Zambia’s largest foreign exchange earner, and contributed 7.76 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Copper production for 2003 was 349814 tonnes and cobalt production in the same year 6493 tonnes.
Significant developments in the agriculture sector have identified it as a major engine for attaining broad-based economic growth as well as protecting the social sector. Food security is a key issue, and a great deal of this sector is involved in subsistence farming.
The country’s fertile tracts of land produce crops such as maize, sorghum, millet and cassava, which are mainly for domestic consumption. Export crops compromise sugar, coffee, groundnuts, rice and cotton as well as horticultural produce. Assisted by a good maize crop as well as Government reforms, including reductions in tariffs and duties, 2003 saw agriculture contributing some 15.3 percent to GDP, up from 15.2 percent in 2002.
The Manufacturing sector makes up 10.9 percent of the country’s GDP (2003), with the most important products being food processing, beverages and tobacco, as well as leather and textiles.
Secondary processing of metals, including the melting and refining of copper, is a sign of manufacturing of metal products and the development of vehicle assembly plants. Fertilizers, chemicals, also produced. Petroleum is refined, and there is an active oil industry.
Tourism is an area of great economic potential for Zambia, which is home to spectacular national parks and game reserves of international standing.
The sector nevertheless remains largely underdeveloped, contributing only 2.4 percent to the GDP during 2003 and employing some 16,550 people. Areas in need of urgent development include the provision of hospitality services, accommodation and other tourism-related infrastructure.