Working paper number: 28
Author(s): Jeremy Seekings and Alfred Tembo


From the 1930s the economic history of Zambia has been dominated by the fortunes of its copper industry. In the middle of the twentieth century, copper- mining generated rapid export-led economic growth, raising real GDP per capita three-fold and transforming Zambia into a semi-industrial economy. At independence, Zambia had a higher GDP per capita than almost any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa apart from South Africa. Over the thirty-five years from 1965, however, Zambia’s economy contracted, reducing GDP per capita by one half. This collapse followed the decline in value of copper exports, as production shrank (especially as a share of global production) and the copper price fell. The weak demand for copper combined with government mismanagement. Only in the 2000s did the economy begin to grow again.

 Publication file: SeekingsTembo.pdf