Lusaka’s economy has changed drastically over the years. Zambia was originally an important source of copper for the British Empire, its imperial ruler. However, the sharp decline in copper prices from the 1970s onwards had a huge impact on the industry and the wider socio-economic welfare of the country.
The copper industry is still a huge employer — there has been a recent influx of foreign investment and many expats come to Lusaka to work in the copper industry. The 1990s saw economic restructuring and a new important role for Lusaka in the country’s economy, though.
The city is now an important financial hub, not just for Zambia, but for the wider region, with the headquarters of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) located in the city. Other diversification efforts that contribute to the economy include agriculture, hydro-power and tourism.
Many expats come to Lusaka with a job offer, but some move to the city seeking work, for instance as a spouse or family member of someone with a job.
Unemployment in Lusaka is very high and much of the population live below the poverty line. Highly skilled expats, particularly in the engineering, mining, agricultural and financial sectors should find a job quite easily. There are also opportunities in the NGO, heath care and education sectors, either as paid employees or as a much needed volunteer.
While there are no restrictions for expats working in Lusaka, you will need to obtain a work permit, issued by the Department of Immigration, before you enter the country.
The general rule is that if you’ve been resident in Lusaka (or anywhere in the country) for over 183 days, and have worked during this time, you will be liable to pay income tax.
You may find that you have to pay taxes in Zambia, as well as your home country, but this depends on the length of your stay, and the type of contract you have. Some independent contractors are offered tax breaks and there are many different factors that will determine what you have to pay.
The tax rates are:
It’s best to seek professional tax advice soon after moving to Lusaka to ensure that you comply with all tax legislation, and submit your tax return on time to avoid penalties.
You can also find more information about taxation in the Zambia Fiscal Guide of KPMG 2013/14.