• Current language: en

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 sectors.


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. 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.


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 currently ongoing Copperbelt Water Operator Partnership Project that aims at developing capacity of the three Copperbelt water utilities (Mulonga, Nkana and Kafubu Water and Sewerage Companies) 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 by financing 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 non-revenue water.

Civil Society

Civil society Organisations

  • 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.
  • End 2014 the EU and its Members States finalised and approved the CSOs Roadmap for Zambia . Three priorities were put forward:
  • (1) Enhanced CSOs' capacities in project management, internal governance, fund raising, monitoring and evaluation
  • (2) Enhanced CSO contribution to governance and development processes, improved interaction with Government and finally
  • (3) Improved coordination between Delegation, EU MS and other international donors & joint support where possible.
  • In the framework of the CSOs RoadMap, the EU Delegation to Zambia, in collaboration with the EU Members States, will start organising some events with the civil society in Zambia in 2015.


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:

  1. Euro 50 Million Programme to accelerate progress towards Millennium Development Goals 1c, 4 and 5 – improving nutrition and maternal and child health (MDGi programme).
  2. Euro 18 Million Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) programme.

Both programmes started in 2013 and will continue until 2018.

Millennium Development Goal Initiative (MDGi) - Accelerating Progress towards Maternal, Neonatal and Child Morbidity and Mortality Reduction in Zambia

The Millennium Development Goal Initiative (MDGi) aims at accelerating the reduction of maternal, neonatal and child mortality in Zambia. The programme is funded by the European Union with an amount of Euro 50 Million Euro and implemented by the Zambian Ministry of Health with technical support of UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, Planned Parenthood Association in Zambia (PPAZ) and Marie Stopes Zambia. This programme will be implemented over a 60-month period and aims at improving the availability and quality of health and nutrition services in 11 districts in Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces, covering over 30% of the Zambian population.


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 will be Elections, Justice and Public Financial management.

Editorial Sections: