All markets


With a cumulative score of 1.49, Zambia ranks number 54 among emerging markets and number 83 in the global ranking.

  • Emerging markets
  • Middle East & Africa

1.80 / 5

Power score

0.77 / 5

Transport score


Buildings score

Only 56 markets (28 emerging markets) are scored on the Buildings sector. See the full list on the methodology page.


Low-carbon strategy

Net-zero goal and strategy

Zambia has set neither a net-zero emissions goal nor a long-term carbon strategy.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)

Zambia in July 2021 submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a non-binding plan to achieve the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. It has pledged to lower emissions by 25% by 2030 (or 47% with significant international financial and technical support) from business-as-usual (BAU) levels compared with a 2010 baseline. This would be a total emissions reduction of 20,000-38,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e). It aims to do so through implementing sustainable forest management, sustainable agriculture practices and renewable energy.

Fossil fuel phase-out policy

There is no fossil fuel phase-out policy in Zambia.


Power policy

Zambia is a politically stable country with a light-handed regulatory approach to energy, although it has retail tariffs that are not cost reflective. The country aims to diversify its power mix and improve access to electricity, and its policies reflect this.

In mid-2016, the Scaling Solar program in Zambia awarded 81 megawatts in its first round, yielding some of the lowest solar prices in sub-Saharan Africa. Scaling Solar is a World Bank Group program to help governments attract privately funded solar projects at competitive power prices. Both winning solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, the 34-megawatt Ngonye and 56-megawatt Bangweulu, begun commercial operations in 2019. The next Scaling Solar auction round is on hold, pending the completion of a cost-of-service review of state-owned utility, Zesco.

Zambia also awarded 120 megawatts of PV capacity under the first round of the country’s Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (GET FiT) scheme, the implementation program for its Renewable Energy Feed-in Tarrif (REFiT) Strategy to boost private investment in small and medium-scale renewable independent power producers (IPPs) up to 20 megawatts.

Together with the planned dissemination of 500,000 solar home systems and installation of 350,000 solar water heaters, Zambia is moving toward increasing access to modern energy services and meeting growing demand for electricity. Zambia offers a 0% tax rate on dividends and profits for the first five years of the project lifetime for PV and small-hydro plants under certain conditions. It also has customs duty exemptions for most renewable energy project components, although most of these products are still required to pay 15% value-added tax (VAT).

Some solar suppliers have complained about tax exemptions being applied inconsistently, potentially hindering the success of these incentives. Buyers of energy saving appliances, machinery and equipment, including solar panels and batteries, are exempt from paying VAT.

Power policies

Renewable energy auction
Feed-in Tariff
Import tax incentives
Net Metering
Renewable energy target
VAT incentives

Power prices and costs

Electricity prices in Zambia are historically stable and low because of subsidies. Retail tariffs are below the cost of production, meaning that Zesco faces significant financial pressure. The utility’s overall debt is estimated at $1 billion. It has reportedly fallen into arrears on payments to IPPs after a 2015-16 drought led to the signing of emergency power purchase agreements (PPAs). Zesco’s debt to Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) for importing power under one two-year contract stands at about $70 million.

In 2017, average commercial electricity prices were increased as Zesco began moving toward more cost-reflective tariffs, which was also necessitated by inflation. The tariff increase was approved by the Energy Regulatory Board; however, subsequent upward revisions of retail tariffs planned for 2018 were canceled following direct intervention by the president. Zesco had a total debt of $3.5 billion as at September 2021.


Power market

Investment in Zambia’s clean energy sector has grown in recent years. Between 2017 and 2018, the first Scaling Solar auction round attracted some $91 million of new asset finance. In 2019, Zambia reached $176 million in investment for wind and solar projects, the highest share in a decade. The country has received both international concessional and commercial support, notably from the Export-Import Bank of China, which provided $130 million of debt, although the availability of finance from local debt providers has been limited. In June 2020, Zesco and the Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) signed a contract worth $548 million to develop 600 megawatts of solar projects.

Zambia’s power market is dominated by large hydro assets and Zesco, a vertically integrated utility owned by the Zambian government. Zesco generates, transmits and delivers the majority of the country's electricity. However, the sector is diversifying away from large hydro and Zesco’s monopoly on generation, with IPPs capturing most market share in other generation technologies. The share of large hydro in installed capacity fell from 92% in 2010, to 78% by 2018, and 72% by 2019, as IPPs commissioned new PV and fossil fuel plants. There is a pipeline of new hydro projects, including the 2,400-megawatt Batoka Gorge Dam power project, and several existing large hydro facilities are also being upgraded by Zesco.

There is a large untapped potential for small-scale hydropower, particularly for rural electrification, which may change pending the success of the second GET FiT round. Zambia is largely an electricity-exporting nation, except for years of low rainfall and low hydro generation during which it becomes a net importer.

Installed Capacity (in MW)

2012201420162018202001K2K3K4K MW

Electricity Generation (in GWh)

2012201420162018202005K10K15K20K GWh

Utility privatisation

Which segments of the power sector are open to private participation?


Wholesale power market

Does the country have a wholesale power market?

Not available

Doing business and barriers

Electricity demand has increased on robust GDP growth in Zambia, due to the expansion of copper mining and agriculture. Peak demand rose from 1.5 gigawatts in 2010 to a record 2.8 gigawatts in 2020. Peak power demand sat at 2.3 gigawatts in 2021. Zambia’s mining sector has seen copper production almost double following the commissioning of the country’s first coal-fired power plant, Maamba, in July 2016.

However, Zambia's hydro-dominated power sector has failed to meet growing demand during times of drought. The deficit of power output relative to demand reached around 1,000 megawatts in 2015 and 526 megawatts in 2016, which resulted in load shedding. This had a devastating effect on the Zambian economy, bringing annual GDP growth downward from a mean 7%, between 2002 and 2014, to 2.92% in 2015, which was the lowest since 1998. In 2019, drought conditions have again caused power shortages, with a peak deficit reported at 273 megawatts. However, the country has made significant steps to improving load management with scheduled four-hour periods of outages per day and exemptions for critical consumers. The national electrification rate is 43% (80% in urban and 13% in rural areas). The government’s plan of 66% national access (90% urban and 51% rural) will likely require mini-grids or off-grid solar, as low population density and affordability can limit the case for major grid extensions to all areas.

Zambia, together with most other sub-Saharan countries, has placed an import duty exemption on all renewable energy equipment and machinery for agriculture, aquaculture, and mining. Zesco operates as a single-buyer monopoly, controlling almost all generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, yet the sector is increasingly open to IPPs. All non-hydro generation plants in the country are privately owned. The presence of the International Finance Corporation and World Bank was a significant lever for the Scaling Solar auctions, which provides off-taker risk coverage and helps the country to attract investors and lenders and to reduce project tariffs. Power Africa has been working with African governments and private sector partners to remove barriers that impede sustainable energy development.

Currency of PPAs

Are PPAs (eg. corporate PPAs and all other types) signed in or indexed to U.S. Dollars or Euro?

Not available

Bilateral power contracts

Can a C&I (Commercial and Industrial) customer sign a long-term contract (PPA) for clean energy?

Not available

Fossil fuel price distortions - Subsidies

Does the government influence the wholesale price of fossil fuel (used by thermal power plants) down through subsidies?

Not available

Fossil fuel price distortions - Taxes

Does the government influence the wholesale price of fossil fuel (used by thermal power plants) up through taxes or carbon prices?

Not available


EV market

Zambia’s vehicle taxation mechanism showed that the government had already introduced two tax systems to incentivize import of cleaner vehicles. There are set standards requiring all new buildings to include EV charging implemented in 2022.

EV policy

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector.

Transport policies

Electric vehicle target
Electric vehicle purchase grant or loan incentive
VAT incentives for EV
Import tax incentives for EV
EV charging infrastructure target
EV charging infrastructure support

Fuel economy standards

Does the country have a fuel economy standard in place?

Not available


Buildings market

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector and the energy efficiency market remains at an early stage.

Energy efficiency policy

Does the country have a national energy efficiency plan?

Not available

Energy efficiency policy

Are there minimum energy performance standards for buildings?

Not available

Energy efficiency incentives

Is there access to loans or grants for energy efficiency measures (i.e. Wall or loft insulation or double glazing)?

Not available

Buildings policy

The government has yet to implement any substantive policy support in this sector.

Buildings policies

Low-carbon heat target/roadmap
Tax credits
Boiler scrappage schemes
Heat pumps purchase grants/loans incentive
Ban on boilers: new build homes
Ban on boilers: all homes

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