Zambia won its independence in 1964 and at the time it was one of the strongest economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenneth Kaunda became the first leader of the country. He organized Zambia on a socialist economic model. The copper mines were owned by the state. In the first ten years following independence, the level of real GDP grew at 2.3% a year. Copper prices were increasing and IT SEEMED THAT ZAMBIA WOULD BE A VERY PROSPEROUS NATION.
By the mid-1970’s that dream began to fade. Copper prices fell in the world market. The price of oil and energy fueled global inflation and increased the price of imports. Zambia’s reliance on the copper trade was evident, and it was forced to begin borrowing heavily from international institutions. It seems that Zambia, the World Bank, and the IMF all agreed that copper prices would increase again, jump-starting Zambia’s economy. However, as time went on, this did not prove true.
Further, neighboring countries fighting for independence were supported by Zambia, and trade routes were disrupted. From 1975-1990 the GDP per capital fell by almost 30%. When it became clear that the Zambian economy was not going to just pull out of the situation, global donors were no longer happy to continue the way things were going. They insisted on economic reforms within the country.
It is at this time that Zambia had no choice, things were bad and so we then decided to adopted several economic reforms, including macroeconomic stabilization measures, trade liberalization, export promotion, and the elimination of marketing boards in maize and cotton. These reforms were expected to be beneficial in terms of national welfare, diversity in consumption, and productivity growth. The effects on the distribution of income and poverty were more uncertain, and positive impacts at the household level were harder to secure. Decades later poverty in Zambia increased (1990s).
Today, Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the WORLD and is considered a least developed country. It is clear a number of factors brought Zambia to where it is today. The WORLD BANK BLAMES the failures on a long list of improvements that need to be made, including further liberalization of trade, such as reducing tariffs on agricultural products and eliminating agricultural subsidies.
Zambia is a nation that is facing a number of challenges, all of which must be addressed to make significant progress. However,this is not the end, the good part about falling down is that there is only one way to go and that is up. Our nation has a number of options available for future growth. A decline in the reliance on copper as well as an increasing focus on non-traditional exports such as agricultural goods have the potential to provide economic development.
What happens next, is entirely up to the citizens of Zambia and the government to work together and help grow the country back to riches. Its possible and the time is now.