ZAMBIA is sometimes referred to as “the real Africa” in tourism, given its rough terrain, rural desolation between cities, diversity of ethnic groups, and its stunning natural wonders like Victoria Falls. Zambia was called Northern Rhodesia until its independence in 1964, and its present name is derived from the Zambezi River which flows through it. Zambia is neighbored by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.
One of the most urbanized countries in Africa, Zambia has a relatively low population density, with 753,000 square kilometers and a population of 13.8 million. Zambia suffers greatly from the AIDS epidemic, which has taken an expansive toll on the country. Its high rate of HIV/AIDS among adults – 13.5% – ranked it as the 6th highest country in the world in 2009.
Zambia’s reliance on its copper industry made it a relatively rich country during the 1960s and early 1970s, but its economic decline since then has brought about extreme poverty. Zambia is one of the poorest and most highly indebted countries in the world and about two-thirds of its population still lives in poverty.
Zambia’s copper industry is both a blessing and a curse for the country. The high commodity prices and foreign investment since 2004 has increased copper output in Zambia and stimulated economic growth. However the overreliance on one industry also leaves Zambia’s economy highly vulnerable. While Zambia has seen economic growth over recent years, and rebounded well from the global economic crisis, poverty remains an enormous problem for this country.
Other than copper mining, agriculture is another important sector of the economy. Despite the high level of urbanization in Zambia, agriculture employs about 85% of the labor force, which is measured at approximately 5.52 million. The 2010 GDP in Zambia was $20.04 billion and the GDP per capita was $1,500. Zambia is still undergoing rapid urbanization, as people continue to flock to the cities in search of more economic opportunities and advantages. Unfortunately, extensive unemployment – especially for the vast youth population – keeps millions trapped in the cycle of poverty.
Zambia’s challenge of youth unemployment, like many African countries, compounds other socioeconomic factors and intensifies the presence of poverty. In Zambia there is serious youth unemployment in both the formal and informal sectors. Youth have limited opportunities in the formal sector while also more essentially lack access to employable skills and adequate credit. According to a UN report in 2005 the overall unemployment rate for youth in the age group of 15-19 was 22.6% and for ages 20-24 was 20.8%. Even the young Zambians exiting colleges and universities each year are unable to find sufficient employment, many of them lacking practical business skills and knowledge.
AFRILINK IN ZAMBIA
AFRILINK reduces poverty in Africa by building the entrepreneurial skills of college-educated youth. In Zambia AFRILINK will use Enterprise Incubators to build the capacity of youth to create their own businesses and break out of the cycle of poverty. By providing the youth of Zambia with new skills, knowledge, and confidence, AFRILINK will help them contribute to their local economy, generate employment for others, and create sustainable change through enterprise.
To promote national ownership, AFRILINK will establish a Zambia-based board of directors in to oversee program activities. AFRILINK encourages local ownership of the development process and acknowledges how important it is to have decisions made locally. The board in Zambia will collaborate with the US-based board of directors.