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Zambia is a large landlocked country with a highly urbanised population of 11 million people. The economy is still very much based on agriculture, which employs over 70% of the working population. After the economic stagnation experienced during the 1990s, growth accelerated in recent years. The main source of growth has been the rapid expansion of mining (mostly copper), which provides nearly 70% of export earnings. However, the overall good performance of the economy has not translated into any significant drop in poverty. The number of people living in absolute poverty remains high. The level of income disparities in Zambia is one of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The positive development recorded for some social indicators, such as education, was not sufficient for Zambia to improve significantly its Human Development Index rank of 165 out of 177 countries. Nonetheless, the country is on track to achieve at least five Millennium Development Goal targets by 2015.

Aid programmes

The Country Strategy Paper for Zambia (2008-2013) presents the strategic framework for the co-operation of the European Commission (EC) with Zambia under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

Two main thematic areas of assistance are regional integration and transport infrastructure as well as human development, in particular health. Additional EC interventions in Zambia will concentrate on agriculture and food security, governance, trade-related issues and the implementation of regional integration programmes as well as support to non-state actors.

The EC's total allocation foreseen for Zambia under 10th EDF funding amounts to €489.8 million. Almost 50% of the programmable funds have been earmarked for general budget support.

Recent assistance

The Country Strategy Paper for Zambia (2001-2007) focussed on transport infrastructure and capacity building for public finance management, private sector development and agriculture under 9th EDF funding.

With approximately €170 million under EDF 8 and 9, EC support for Zambia’s infrastructure development has been considerable. Since 2005, a Sector Policy Support Programme (SPSP) has been piloted to support the implementation of the national sector programme ROADSIP II (2004-2013) amounting to 96 million Euro for the period 2005-2009. The overall goal of ROADSIP II is to systematically upgrade, rehabilitate and maintain the core road network so as to bring it to a maintainable condition by 2013. The aim is also to clear the backlog of periodic maintenance.

A new specific component to focus on rural roads has been incorporated from 2007 until 2009. The particular focus on the rehabilitation of unpaved rural roads derives from the need to meet basic access criteria for the rural poor concerning unpaved rural roads with agricultural potential.

In addition, the EC has increased the 9th EDF infrastructure programme by providing a further €15 million to finance the rehabilitation of the poor 72 km stretch of the Zimba-Livingstone road. This road is part of the link between Lusaka and Livingstone and is a strategic trade and transportation route between Zambia and its neighbours in the north and south. So far, the road remains the only section of the entire corridor connecting Zambia with Tanzania and Zimbabwe that is still in poor condition.

For further details on projects and programmes in Zambia funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please visit the project's section of the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Zambia.

Other sources of information

More information on EU relations with Zambia is available on the pages of the Delegation of the European Union to Zambia, which is also responsible for co-operation activities in the country.

Information on trade and external relations with the ACP region can be found on the websites of the Directorate-General for Trade and the EU External Action Service.

Last update: 31/05/2012 | Top