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European Union External Action

Zambia and the EU

These relations are conducted within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, a global agreement signed in 2000 between African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union. The cooperation between the two started in 1975 with the coming into force of the Lomé Convention, precursor to the present Cotonou Agreement. This is the year that the office of the Delegation of the EU was established in Lusaka.

The relations between Zambia and the EU are based on the EU Treaty. One of the purposes of EU policy in Zambia is to contribute to the general objective of developing and consolidation democracy, the rule of law and of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Development cooperation is one of the main aspects in Zambia-EU relations. The aim is to foster the sustainable economic and social development, Zambia's smooth and gradual integration into the world economy, in order to reduce poverty in the country. These objectives are confirmed in the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, which is the binding agreement that governs the relations between Zambia and the EU.

Further, development assistance to Zambia is in line with the European Consensus on Development, the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals and the aid effectiveness agenda. Along with other Cooperating Partners in Zambia, the EU is fostering coordination, harmonisation and alignment with the Government, through the Joint Assistance Strategy for Zambia – JASZ  

EU-Zambia relations are further guided by the EU Strategy for Africa which provides a long-term, strategic framework for interaction between Europe and Africa through various institutions including the African Union, regional and national authorities. It defines how the EU can best support Africa’s own efforts to promote sustainable development and reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Bilateral trade

As a Least Developed Country (LDC), Zambia benefits from a variety of preferential market access initiatives such as the EU Everything-But-Arms initiative (EBA) under which Zambian goods exported to the EU enjoy a duty-free, quota free treatment.

The EU remains an important trade partner for Zambia, being its 3rd export top partner and its 4th major import partner.

The bilateral trade in goods for 2014 was at €810,119 million in 2014:

  • EU goods imports from Zambia: €372,129 million
  • EU goods exports to Zambia:     €437,990 million

EU's imports from Zambia are mainly manufactured goods and commodities (metals, foodstuff, beverage, tobacco) whereas machinery, transport equipment and chemicals products are main EU's exports to Zambia. Zambia has opportunities to increase its exports to Europe. The country can also emerge as regional food exporter and logistics hub and develop long-term competitiveness of local mining supply cluster.

EU Investment relations with Zambia

Zambia has definitive advantages to attract investors:

  • abundant natural resources,
  • access to water,
  • stable economic and political environment,
  • profile to become energy exporter and agricultural producer.

Starting a business is easy in Zambia:  it takes now 6,5 days (while SSA average is 27,3 days). In terms of investors' perception, 2014 Bank of Zambia survey indicated that starting a business, employing workers and protecting investors got favourable evaluation of respondents, whereas getting credit, enforcing contracts and registering property were rated unsatisfactorily. The main concerns of investors included inflation, foreign exchange volatility, fuel prices, electricity costs, corruption and bureaucracy. 

 Zambian Development Agency was created in 2006 to facilitate investments in Zambia.

 Zambia declared as well 6 areas as Multifacility Economic Zones and/or Industrial Parks.

The European Union is convinced that trade is vital for a country’s development. But in an increasingly competitive global landscape, some developing countries have been further marginalised, held back by lack of productive capacity, difficulties in diversifying their economy, poor infrastructure and export conditions.

In line with its Communication "Trade, growth and development", the EU seeks to ensure that its trade and development policies help developing countries, in particular, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to benefit from increased trade opportunities.

In Zambia, the EU proposes a number of ways to improve the effectiveness of EU trade and development, including:

  • Bilateral trade: through the Everything but Arms Initiative, the EU aims to ensure that Zambia benefits from duty free and quota free access to the EU market;
  • Aid for Trade: the EU provides financial assistance to help Zambia undertake domestic reforms to develop its capacity to trade, to produce, as well as the institutional and economic infrastructure necessary to expand trade.
  • Economic Partnership Agreement: the EU and the Eastern and Southern African countries, including Zambia, have been negotiating the establishment of a development friendly free trade agreement;
  • The EU provides an online service, the Export Helpdesk to facilitate market access to exporters, especially small operators, who are interested in supplying the EU market. In turn, the Market Access Database has been specifically designed to address the needs of EU-based exporters and importers. 

One of the EU Delegation's main activities is to support the Government of the Republic of Zambia realising its national development objectives.

For the period 2014-2020, the EU decided to make 484 million EUR available to assist the Government of the Republic of Zambia with the implementation of activities in the areas of Energy, Agriculture and Governance. The related National Indicative Programme for Zambia was signed by the Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Fredson Yamba and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on the 10th of October 2014. The financial breakdown of the NIP over the focal intervention areas is as follows:

For the previous period from 2008 to 2013, an amount of 490 million EUR has been committed to fund activities primarily in support of the Zambia's Fifth and Sixth National Development Plans. The strategic approach is reflected in the Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme (CSP-NIP), which is the result of negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Zambia, civil society, EU Member States and other Cooperating Partners. The European Union and the Government of the Republic of Zambia agreed to focus the EU's development cooperation on the sectors presented in the following pie chart:

The development programmes are financed under the European Development Fund (EDF), the main instrument for providing EU assistance to countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP).

More detailed information on the activities in Zambia financed by the European Union can be found on the webpages of the following sectors:

Rural Development

The agriculture sector has a central role in Zambia's Revised Sixth National Development Plan (R-SNDP) of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, covering 2013 to 2016, as an engine for rural growth and poverty reduction. The sector employs around 70% of the labour force, and provides livelihood for more than 50% of the population. In addition, over 80% of the rural population depends on agriculture-related activities for their livelihood. Given Zambia's abundant natural resource endowment with people, fertile land and water; agriculture has the potential to become a key to development of the Zambian economy and should be the engine of growth; poverty reduction and climate change mitigation for the next decade and beyond.

Public Finance reform

The agriculture sector has a central role in Zambia's Revised Sixth National Development Plan (R-SNDP) of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, covering 2013 to 2016, as an engine for rural growth and poverty reduction. The sector employs around 70% of the labour force, and provides livelihood for more than 50% of the population. In addition, over 80% of the rural population depends on agriculture-related activities for their livelihood. Given Zambia's abundant natural resource endowment with people, fertile land and water; agriculture has the potential to become a key to development of the Zambian economy and should be the engine of growth; poverty reduction and climate change mitigation for the next decade and beyond.

General Budget Support

Budget support involves policy dialogue, financial transfers to the national treasury of the partner country, performance assessment and capacity-building, based on partnership and mutual accountability. It should not be seen as an end in itself, but as a means of delivering better aid and achieving sustainable development objectives by fostering partner countries' ownership of development policies and reforms. It addresses the source, not just the symptoms, of under-development, and provides the strongest platform that we have to engage in a broad policy dialogue with our partner countries on key development issues. More on EU policies on budget support.

Current support to Zambia

Under the 10th EDF CSP-NIP, the provision of General Budget Support (GBS) to Zambia has supported the Government's focus on accelerating progress against the Millennium Development Goals and reforms in public finance management. Zambia was allocated a six-year programme worth €225 million over the period 2009-2014. An amount of €30 million was added in 2009 to help the country deal with the impact of the global financial and economic crisis.


  The EU has supported the Transport sector for many years and remains one of the key cooperating partners still active in the sector together with the African Development Bank (currently the lead of the Cooperating Partners Group), the Japanese Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Agence Française de Développement and China. Since 1975, the EU has supported virtually all transport sub-sectors in Zambia, but more recently the EU-funded interventions focus on the road and aviation.

Rehabilitation of Great East Road


Energy has been identified as a focal sector for interventions under the 11th EDF and an allocation of 244 million EUR has been earmarked in the National Indicative Programme for Zambia for the period 2014-2020 to improve access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.  More specifically, EU is currently supporting the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam project, rehabilitation of the low voltage distribution network in the poor areas of Lusaka (combined with subsidy programme to support individual connections) as well as the programme promoting sector reforms and capacity building and access to renewable energy services and energy efficiency solutions, primarily in rural areas of Zambia.

Moreover, from 2014 the European Union is a chair of the sector Cooperating Partners Group in Zambia. The leading development partners in this area are Japan, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, Germany through Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Sweden, Norway, USAid and Agence Française de Développement.

Kariba Dam - © ZRA


The financing instrument used to support this sector is the ACP-EU Water Facility, which was set up in 2004 to co- finance water and sanitation infrastructure, to improve water management and governance in the African Caribbean and Pacific countries and to achieve the Millennium Development Goal targets in the water sector.

Under the second Water Facility, with a total budget of €200 million for the period 2009-2013, the EU launched calls for proposals specifically aiming at: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion and Partnerships for Capacity Development in Water and Sanitation Sector.

Under these calls, three projects were selected for Zambia with a total EDF contribution of 8,1 million EUR:

• the already completed Copperbelt Water Operator Partnership Project that aimed at developing capacity of the eight Copperbelt water utilities (Water and Sewerage Companies based in that province) to serve Low- Income Communities,

• the already completed project targeting improved water and sanitation in peri urban and urban poor areas in Zambia through a dedicated basket fund co-financed by several partners including the Government of Zambia, and

• another ongoing project pooling the EDF grant with the support of the European Investment Bank to co-finance the expansion of water and sanitation connections to 15,000 residents in low income areas of Mulonga in the Copperbelt, as well as network upgrades to reduce the revenue  losses to water utility.

Civil Society

European Union “hand in hand” with Civil Society

In 2012, the European Commission published “The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external relations", where it was stated that the EU and its Member States will develop country roadmaps for engagement with CSOs to improve the impact, predictability and visibility of our actions, ensuring synergies and consistency throughout the different sectors covered by the EU’s external relations.

In 2014, the EU launched the “EU Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil Society” in all the countries around the world with the objective to lead to a more structured dialogue and to further improve collaboration between the EU, its Member States and CSOs.  Within this context, the needs and priorities of civil society organisations, development partners, in particular EU Member States, as well as the government were assessed. For Zambia, the process was concluded in December 2014 with a roadmap and Action plan which covers the period 2015 - 2017.

The CSO roadmap for Zambia has three main priorities:

Priority 1

  • Enhance CSOs' capacities in project management, internal governance, fund-raising, monitoring and evaluation,

Priority 2

  • Enhanced CSO contribution to governance and development processes, improved interaction with Government,

Priority 3

  • Improved coordination between Delegation, EU MS and other international donors & joint support where possible.

From inception of the roadmap, the EU has convened a number of “share and learn” events with mainly Zambian CSOs. These events have been well attended and received by the participants. Topics such as policy engagement, resources mobilisation, governance issues, financial and contract management, monitoring & evaluation and evidence based research are discussed.

The European Union and a number of its Member States also work closely with the Zambian Governance Foundation in Zambia who provides capacity building to a number of Zambian and non-Zambian organisations, mainly in the areas of access to justice and media.

For 2017 learning, sharing and discussion events are planned for March and October, during which the CSO Map will be reviewed as well as its priorities. On May 13, the European Union Delegation in Zambia plans the organisation of a CSO Fair.

Projects in Zambia with Civil Society

Civil Society is an important consultation partner for the European Union, issues violence against women and children, media, elections, laws, access to justice and other issues related to governance and human rights are regularly discussed. 

Insofar our financial support is concerned; in Zambia, we are currently contributing approximately €16 million in the following main areas: support to community schools, maternal and child health, family planning, media, elections, women’s participation, prisoner’s rights and access to justice with s specific focus on juveniles, children and women.

Through our project with the Zambian Governance Foundation we support and capacitate civil society organisations in Zambia in the area of access to justice, media and theatre.

In 2016 we concluded 4 new grant contracts in order to  provide  comprehensive  and  holistic  approach to  nutrition-specific  and  nutrition sensitive interventions in Zambia. In 2016 we also concluded a new partnership with NGOCC (Non-Government Organisations’ Coordinating Council), the umbrella organisation in Zambia which advocates and work on issues related to women empowerment and women’s participation in society. In the framework on this new partnership contracts with member organisations will be signed in March 2017 to work on issues related to advocacy, sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s empowerment in the productive sectors such as agriculture.

During 2017 we will also finalise a new call for proposals aiming anti-discrimination.


Under the 10th EDF, the EU supported the Zambian Health Sector with a total amount of Euro 103 million. Between 2009 and 2013, Euro 35 million were disbursed as Health Sector Budget Support.

The remaining funds of Euro 68 million have been allocated to two major programmes (both started in 2013 and will continue until 2019) :

  1. Programme to accelerate progress towards Millennium Development Goals 1c, 4 and 5, improving nutrition and maternal and child health. This is the MDGi programme which is implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Zambia and UNICEF - €50 million

The five main Expected Results (ERs) of the MDGi Programme are:

  • ER–1: A package of highly effective nutrition services, aligned to the national strategy, is available and used by the most vulnerable populations in all targeted districts.
  • ER–2: Increased availability of a continuum of maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition services of good quality.
  • ER–3: Increased knowledge, demand for services and cultural, and geographical access to MNCH care and services.
  • ER-4:  Improve coverage and accessibility of adolescent and youth friendly services in the targeted districts.
  • ER-5: The capacity for planning, implementation and co-ordination of MCDMCH, MOH and other stakeholders at national, provincial and district level is improved.

During 2017 a mind-term evaluation of the MDGi programme is carried out.

Credit picture: UNICEF/Zambia

2. Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) programme - €18 million

The Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) programme aims at strengthening critical support functions of the Zambian health system, particularly in support of the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) and Medical Stores Limited (MSL). The HSS Programme has 4 components: (1) Strengthening regulation and control of medicines and allied substances, and building the capacity of ZAMRA; (2) Improving the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the pharmaceutical procurement and supply management system; (3) Progress towards rational drug use; and (4) Overall support/technical assistance/policy support to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

In 2017, the construction started of a National Quality Control Laboratory for ZAMRA close to the road to the airport which we hope to have finalised by the end of 2018.

  1. Other EU support to the Health sector in Zambia

The European Union (Commission and its member States together) is also a major contributor to the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, where it has provided more than 50% of the Global Fund's budget between 2001 and 2013. Given its role as major funder of the Global Fund, the European Union was asked to co-sign as a witness for 4 new Global Fund grants for Zambia in February 2015. The European Commission has pledged €370 million for the period 2014-2016, an increase of 10%.

The European Commission also strongly supports the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) for which it has contributed USD 113.5 Million over the period 2003-2016. The EU has made a new pledge of USD 200 Million for the period 2016-2020.

The European Union also support health research projects in Zambia. Most of these are funded through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCDP) which supports clinical development in sub-Saharan Africa of new or improved products against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Many of these projects are with the University Teaching Hospital.


Under the 11th EDF Country Strategy/National Indicative Programme for Zambia, an allocation of €100 million has been set aside for supporting the Government of the Republic of Zambia in its work on strengthening Governance.

Governance as a focal sector for the 11th EDF will enable the EU's development cooperation to help create better conditions for inclusive, sustainable growth; more effective service delivery; more equitable access to services; and more opportunities for citizens – particularly women – to claim their rights, hold public institutions accountable, and participate in decision-making processes.

The main working areas are Electoral support, Access to Justice, Human Rights and more specifically women and children’s rights and Public Financial Management.

Democratic Governance

  • Electoral Support: the EU contributed €7 million to support the electoral cycle for the Elections which were held in 2016. The purpose of the action was to ensure that Zambian citizens take part in credible elections and that there is greater public participation in electoral processes (particularly women, youth and disabled). The programme's main objectives are to: 1) Increase the effectiveness of the Electoral Commission of Zambia to organise credible elections; 2) Increase transparency of and participation in electoral processes; and 3) Improve policing and coordination between ECZ and Zambian Police Force.  The programme also supported civil society to organise civic and voter education before the elections, enhance women’s participation and carry out domestic observations. During the 2016 Elections the European Union also deployed a European Union Observer Mission (EUOM). During 2017, post-electoral support will be given to the Electoral Commission of Zambia and civils society to work on the recommendations made by the EUOM and further improve the electoral cycle. The EU works closely with other Cooperating Partners in this area.

  • Access to Justice : The EU, in close partnership with Germany, implemented through GIZ Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit) finances an access to justice project with an amount of €7 million. The purpose of the action is to improve justice delivery for all, and enhance respect for and protection and fulfilment of human rights. The programme's objectives are to 1) strengthened legal empowerment of rights-holders and access to legal assistance in civil and criminal justice cases whereby specific attention will be given to the differentiated needs, situations and requirements of women, children and persons with disabilities; and 2) to support policy and institutional frameworks reforms and coordination amongst stakeholders for efficient, effective and inclusive justice delivery. Main implementers of the programme are Zambian civil society organisations and a special focus is put on women and juveniles.


  • Women and children’s rights: the European Union is currently finalising a €25 million programme to prevent Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and to support SGBV survivors. The porgramme will have three main components which will be prevention through the change of mindsets and behaviour, comprehensive support packages to survivors and institutional support at national, provincial and district level. The programme, which hopefully will kick off in 2018, will be implemented in Northern Province and Luapula Province.


  • Human Rights: For the period 2014-2017, the priorities set out for supporting CSOs in Zambia in the field of human rights through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) are: reduction of gender based violence, addressing human rights conditions in prisons and anti-discrimination. During 2017, we will be finalising a call for proposal which aims at eliminating  discrimination against disabled people, LGBTI people and people living with AIDS for which an envelope of  €1,1 million has been made available.

  • Human Trafficking/Migration: the EU has been supporting the Zambian Government in the area of human trafficking since 2009.  Since December 2012, the EU has contributed to the joint effort of UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR, to combat human trafficking and exploitation, with a particular focus on vulnerable migrants such as unaccompanied or separated children, the project ended in June 2016. The EU’s financial contribution to this amounts to €2 million. Main results of these project are :

  • Review of national laws and policies such as the Anti-Human Trafficking Act and the Immigration and Deportation Act

  • The development of various support tools, such as guidelines, trainer’s manuals and profiling forms to support front-line officials to better understand the needs of vulnerable migrants and to more respond to them.

  • The New Zambian Immigration Management Systems which has been deployed in three border control posts (Mwami, Kasumbalesa and Mpulungu) and three Regional Immigration Offices (Chipata, Kasama and Ndola).

  • The interview spaces at eight different locations have been improved or established.

  • A total of 344 beneficiaries, of which 127 children, have received protective assistance

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