Calming the Copperbelt Economic Storm
During the last five years, the Zambian economy has been slapped by a series of turbulent macroeconomic challenges. The most notable shocks were the steep drop in the global price of copper, Zambia’s main foreign exchange earner, severe electricity supply constraints and a sharp weakening of the Kwacha against major convertible currencies. These and other factors led to slow economic growth which hit a trough of 2.9% in 2015 - the slowest growth since the mid-1990s. The slowdown particularly adversely affected the Copperbelt Province, Zambia’s industrial heartland with the largest concentration of copper mines. It led to the suspension of mining operations by some mining houses and postponement of investments, resulting in massive job losses affecting over 10,000 mine workers and mine service contractors. This paper assesses how the economic downturn impacted upon jobs and the labour market particularly on the Copperbelt. This information is gleaned from the 2016 Opinion Poll on the impact of the economic slowdown on the labour market in Zambia. It was a nationally representative survey which targeted 1,510 randomly selected individuals in all the ten provinces of Zambia. The face-to-face interviews were conducted between 2nd and 22nd April 2016.