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Association of Professional Immigration Consultants
Zambia's banking system has become more competitive in recent years, with both local and international banks offering a range of services to both Zambians and expatriates alike.
The currency in Zambia is the kwacha (ZMW, previously ZMK), which is subdivided into 100 ngwee.
Banking in Zambia
There are a number of banks in Zambia for expats to choose from. Local banks include Zambia National Commercial Bank (the largest domestic bank), Finance Bank Zambia, Inter-Market, National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAV) and Indo-Zambia Bank, while international banks operating in Zambia include Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic, African Banking Corporation, Ecobank, Bank AB, United Bank of Africa and Citibank.
Mobile and online banking services are available at most banks in Zambia.
Opening hours for Zambian banks are usually from 08:15 to 15:00 hrs, Monday to Friday. Most banks are closed on weekends. However, some larger banks in Lusaka are open on Saturday mornings.
Opening a bank account in Zambia
Opening a bank account in easy in Zambia with most banks processing this within few hours if all documentation required is provided by the client.
The documents needed to open a bank account in Zambia include:
-an identification document (such as a passport)
-payslip or proof of income
-a reference/introduction letter from either your employer or current bank
Foreign currency exchange is done at many bureaux de change which are situated in most parts of the cities and towns. US dollars should be brought into the country in notes of USD 50 and up, as there is a higher fee charged for changing small notes.
Money should not be changed on the streets, as many of these operations are part of a scam and unsuspecting expatriates risk being ripped off.
ATMS and credit cards
There are plenty of ATMs in the main cities such as Lusaka and Livingston, but almost none in the rural areas. Don’t count on a particular ATM working. It’s worth planning expenditure ahead of time because of this unreliability.
While Zambia remains a largely cash society, credit cards are accepted at most large establishments in Zambian cities. Visa is the dominant credit card service in Zambia, and MasterCard and American Express cards are not as widely accepted.
Taxes in Zambia
Tax regulations in Zambia are subject to change at short notice and expatriate should enlist the services of a registered tax consultant to assist them with their Zambian taxes.
Income taxes in Zambia are implemented along a progressive scale from 0 to 35 percent, depending on income and resident status. Corporate tax is higher, and there is a specialised mining tax.
The tax year in Zambia runs form 1 April to 31 March.
Doing Business in Zambia
Expatriates doing business in Zambia will find themselves in a politically stable country that has seen positive economic growth in recent years. Zambia is one of the most sparsely populated, yet most urbanised countries in Africa, with the capital, Lusaka; the tourist hub of Livingstone; and the mineral-rich Copperbelt being the most important commercial centres and where the majority of Zambia’s population live.
Much of Zambia’s economic growth has been attributed to the privatisation of the mining sector, which has managed to attract much foreign investment in recent years. Zambia is rich in natural resources and is the world’s largest producer of copper. Agriculture is another important sector, accounting for around 80 percent of the country’s employment, and other major exports include fresh flowers, tobacco and sugar.
Despite positive growth, challenges remain to doing business in Zambia; corruption and nepotism are pervasive, and obstacles to economic growth include widespread poverty, poor service delivery and infrastructure, and the country’s rising AIDS/HIV infection rates. These challenges are reflected in Zambia’s ranking in the World Bank’s 2014 Ease of Doing Business Survey, where it was ranked 111th out of 185 countries; a drop of 17 places from its 2013 ranking of 94. Zambia scored relatively well for getting credit (23rd), but scored particularly poorly for factors such as trading across borders (177th), registering property (152nd) and getting electricity (126th).
Business culture in Zambia
Business culture in Zambia is formal, both in terms of communication and personal appearances. First names are hardly ever used in business circles and addressing someone by their first name may be considered rude in some situations. Associates should be addressed formally and using their full title and surname, e.g. Mr Smith. Business attire should be smart, and depending on the industry, a suit may be required.
Expatriates doing business in Zambia will need to learn patience when it comes to dealing with local associates and the bureaucratic procedures that accompany business dealings; meetings are never rushed and contract negotiations can take time. In line with this, Zambians are friendly and genuinely interested in other people; a proper greeting and small talk are common at the beginning of meetings, with conversation covering topics such as family, one’s health and sport. Only once these courtesies are out of the way, will one get to discuss matters of business.
Business structures in Zambia are hierarchical and decisions are made from the top. Unfortunately, corruption remains an ongoing concern in Zambian government and business circles and it’s not unusual to be faced with the expectation of extracting a bribe in order to make connections and win contracts. Furthermore, nepotism is not unusual in Zambia and it’s often who you know rather than what you know that is likely to open doors to business dealings in the country. Thus, networking and making important connections within the business and political sphere may go a long way to opening up opportunities to doing business in Zambia.
Living in Zambia >> Banking, Tax and Doing Business in Zambia
Language of business: English is the official language of Zambia and the most widely spoken in business circles. Expats working in more rural areas and in mining communities will do well to learn key phrases and greetings in the relevant local dialects.
Business dress: Business attire is usually smart, although men are not expected to wear a suit and tie, but this depends on the company and industry. Smart trousers and a shirt are usually acceptable. Women should dress conservatively and avoid exposing their shoulders and legs.
Business hours: The standard working week in Zambia is Monday to Friday, with the weekend falling on Saturday and Sunday. Working hours are generally between 8am and 5pm, which includes an hour lunch break.
Greeting: A firm handshake is the norm when greeting in Zambian business circles. If greeting a woman, wait for her to extend her hand first. Titles are important in Zambia and should be used when greeting associates, especially in official government circles. The most senior individuals in a room should be greeted first.
Gifts: Gift-giving in business circles is not common and with the prevalence of corruption, may be misconstrued as a bribe.
Gender equality: Women have equal rights in Zambia, although men still occupy most senior roles in Zambian business.
Dos and don’ts of business in Zambia
Do always greet Zambian associates politely and using their official title and surname.
Don't address a Zambian colleague by their first name unless invited to do so first.
Do be prepared to start meetings with small talk and don’t be offended if you are asked personal questions about your family or health; this is not meant to offend, but merely a way of showing interest.
Don't rush your Zambian counterparts. Business dealings take time in Zambia and it’s important to always be polite and respectful.
Do dress smartly for business meetings; first impressions are important, as are appearances.
Do be prepared to network and make important connections within Zambian business and political circles in order to facilitate commercial opportunities.
Living in Zambia
Where we are
Enock Kavu Road, Off Addis Ababa Road,
Rhodes Park, Lusaka