Despite copper wealth, Zambia still remains one of the world’s poorest nations

Copper Cathode Electrolytic Grade-A
Copper Cathode Electrolytic Grade-A

Zambia is one of the world’s richest nations, as long as you measure wealth by natural resources.

The country in south-central Africa is the continent’s biggest copper producer. Mining companies have extracted nearly $30 billion worth of copper from Zambia in the past 10 years, a period of high prices for the metal.

So why is Zambia still one of the world’s poorest nations, with high unemployment and 64 percent of the people living in poverty? The answer, in part, is that Zambia privatized its mines 10 years ago to pay off part of its staggering debt.

Now, the mines are owned by multinational companies. And those foreign investors  have managed to avoid paying taxes on their profits. However, in recent months, the relatively new government has stepped up its efforts to force the mining companies to pay their fair share of taxes. But there’s a downside: the companies are threatening to cut thousands of jobs in retaliation.

To learn more, Global Journalist spoke to a Bloomberg News correspondent in Zambia’s capital, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer who’s worked in the country.


Matthew Hill covers Zambia for Bloomberg News.

Andrew Fritz is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who now is a masters student at MU.