Changing Times For Zambia:
National Job Creation

Are stakeholders in the public and private sectors leveraging economic opportunities to create employment within the country? This question resonates with many in the face of recent economic downturns, a trend that has proved challenging to many youths entering the workforce today.

In any employment creation drive, laying the foundation by delivering a conducive economic environment is paramount. Recently, a huge debt burden for the country has throttled development, affecting job creation in the process. This dent in the country’s developmental structure has curtailed the efficient delivery of necessary socio-economic development programmes prudently and promptly.

With the nation’s debt restructuring programme came a fresh injection of funding into the economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have approved funding of $187 million and $125 million, respectively. These interventions are hopefully the genesis of a renaissance for the country’s economy! The conclusion of the debt restructuring process is a positive development that will enhance fiscal stability by reducing debt service costs and freeing up resources for critical social and infrastructural spending.

A robust surge in the private sector, particularly the growth of MSMEs, is the most powerful driver of job creation. Stakeholders should aim to harness the full potential of Zambia’s youth by prioritising growth in the employment-rich sectors in the economic transformation programme and placing a high premium on their challenges through targeted initiatives and programmes.

The private sector is critical to the employment and empowerment programme. It is heartening to note that this is a national priority, evidenced by the launch of mechanisms aimed at unlocking the private sector’s potential as a driver of economic development and job creation in 2022. Zambia recognises the private sector as the engine for innovation and job creation; therefore, the role of the private sector in realising economic development cannot be underestimated.

To ensure meaningful private sector participation in the economy, the Public-Private Dialogue Forum (PPDF) was established to actualise the potential that the country has been sitting on for decades. Its objective is to help create jobs in the hopes that underlying issues will be resolved through job creation.

The job creation horizon seems bright, with many employment opportunities set to be realised as the mainstay of the country’s economy—mining. One such milestone is the reopening of Mopani Copper Mines. In March 2024, the mines were officially handed over to the Abu Dhabi-based International Resources Holding (IRH) at Central Offices, Nkana Mine Site, Kitwe, in a $1.1 billion deal.

This investment comes with refinancing to repay Glencore’s debt as well as capitalising the mine to the tune of over $600 million, which entails the acquisition of new assets, revamping the existing mine, optimising the mining operations, employing more people, engaging more suppliers and creating massive socio-economic value. The economic fortunes of the Copperbelt, and indeed Zambia as a whole, are set for revival on the backdrop of this intervention as it is a step towards macroeconomic stability.

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Vedanta, commits to set aside $200 million annually for the next six years to revamp production from the current 30,000 metric tonnes to its golden days of 300,000 annual metric tonnes. Youth in Chingola, Chilalabombwe, and Nampundwe can be assured of jobs arising from this intervention.

Employment opportunities abound in the mining sector. $200 million has been invested in the Kasamba opencast mine in Lufwanyama on the Copperbelt, which produces 20,000 metric tonnes of copper annually.

Not to be outdone is NFC Africa, which plans to expand its operations by investing $500 million to hire an additional 30,000 metric tonnes of copper per annum, potentially employing youth in the surrounding areas of Kalulushi and Chambishi.

Barrick Gold Corporation is expected to invest a momentous $2 billion in greenfield operations in North-Western Province to produce 110,000 metric tonnes of copper yearly, unveiling further employment prospects in the region.

In Luanshya, the $110 million dewatering of Shaft 28 by the China Nonferrous Mining Corporation (CNMC) is underway. After the dewatering project, an additional $500 million investment in the Shaft is tailored to increase copper production from 40,000 to 70,000 metric tonnes. These mining investments are projected to create tens of thousands of jobs for Zambian citizens.

In the construction industry, a mammoth project, the $660 million 327km Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway, is underway and is expected to create over 3,500 jobs in the vicinity. Also in the pipeline are the $71 million Ndola-Sakania-Mufulira road and the 45km Luanshya-Fisenge-Masangano road. Improved road networks lead to enhanced business and numerous employment opportunities in areas serviced by the road network.

A fillip of $300 million is being ploughed into creating ten farm blocks to grow the agriculture sector. Encompassing all the provinces of Zambia, this programme is expected to create a heartening 50,000 new jobs. Stakeholders must fully explore each province’s agricultural potential and advantages by promoting crops and agricultural activities that thrive in their respective areas. Finally, on the agro-investment front, United Capital Fertilizer Limited is set to invest $500 million in an expansion project to produce the country’s first-ever urea fertiliser, creating over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The coming years will be worth writing home about, as the country’s economic landscape is expected to experience upward trends. The process may be extensive, but the rewards, once reaped, will be plentiful.

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