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What is the Zambian kwacha (ZMK)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.


In 2010 the total GDP was $16,192,857,209 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $1,252. It grew by 7.61% over the previous year.


The latest unemployment rate for 2005 is 9.99%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 166.90.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is President Michael Sata, who is also the head of state (in an executive role).

Currency Details

The Zambian kwacha, denoted by ZMK, is the official currency that has been used in Zambia since 1968. The ZMK, which is further divided into 100 ngwee, gets its name from the Bemba word for “dawn” which alludes to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a “new dawn of freedom”. In 2003, Zambia printed its 500 and 1000 banknotes on polymer, being the first African country to do so.

Sovereign Ratings for Zambia

Zambia is not rated.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

Zambia government is a republic and contains three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial.

The executive branch consists of the president who serves as chief of state and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The president then appoints the vice president, as well as his Cabinet from members of the National Assembly.

This unicameral National Assembly makes up the legislative branch. It contains 150 seats whose members serve five-year terms after being elected by popular vote.

The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court (whose justices are appointed by the president and serves as the final court of appeal) and the High Court (who has unlimited jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases).

Prominent Figures

Chief of State President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008); note – President BANDA was acting president since the illness and eventual death of President Levy MWANAWASA on 18 August 2008, he was then elected president on 30 October 2008 to serve out the remainder of MWANAWASA’s term; the president is both the chief of state and head of government Head of Government President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008) Cabinet Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly Elections president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 October 2008 (next to be held in 2011); vice president appointed by the president; note – due to the death of former President Levy MWANAWASA, early elections were held to identify a replacement to serve out the remainder of his term Election Results Rupiah BANDA elected president; percent of vote – Rupiah BANDA 40.1%, Michael SATA 38.1%, Hakainde HICHILEMA 19.7%, Godfrey MIYANDA 0.8%, other 1.3%

Key Economic Factors


Although Zambia is taking steps forward in privatization and budgetary reform, its growth is still below the 5-7% that is needed to substantially lessen poverty. The privatization of government owned copper mines in Zambia largely helped the government, as it no longer had to cover the massive losses created by the industry. This significantly bettered the chances of the copper industry to go back to being a profitable one and something that could stimulate economic growth. With the increase in copper prices and the opening of new mines, output of copper is predicted to continue to increase. Another positive aspect for Zambia was that a good maize harvest in 2004 helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports. As of late, Zambia is looking for ways to reduce poverty, such as new lending deals with the IMF. Also, more controlled monetary policies have been implemented to help curb inflation. However, on the downside, Zambia continues to have an extreme problem with fiscal discipline.


Copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, and horticulture.

Agriculture Products:

Corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides and coffee.

Major Trading Partners:

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, China, Japan, Thailand and Switzerland.

Import Commodities:

Machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer, foodstuffs and clothing.

Export Commodities:

Copper/cobalt 64%, cobalt, electricity, tobacco, flowers and cotton.

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