African economies are primed to be ranked among the fastest growing in the world in 2019. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), projections for the region’s economic growth next year has been bumped up to 3.5% – 4% from earlier projections of 3% growth. If you set aside Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, the region’s projected growth rate jumps to 5.7%.
Among those nations primed for growth is Zambia, which thanks to the steady rebound of commodity prices, an improvement in the global economy and improved capital market access, enjoyed 5% growth in the third quarter of 2018, up a half-point from a year earlier. Still, as many analysts express concern over the country’s management of debt, a fiscal consolidation programme has boosted confidence, resulting in improving medium and long-term forecasts for the country’s potential growth with President Edgar Lungu at the helm.
But Zambia is not quite out of the woods yet. Debt remains high, there’s an ongoing tax row with the mining industry, and the political opposition complains of rough treatment. So the question is, can Zambia’s reputation for resilience and stability continue to hold through this difficult period?
I recently had an opportunity of interacting with Christopher Mvunga, Zambia’s Deputy Secretary to Cabinet, to get his views on how the economy is performing and see what challenges may lay ahead for the Southern African nation.