Bringing Prosperity to Life


Ranked 108th of 149

At a glance


108 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™



In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Zambia performs best on Business Environment and Governance and scores lowest on the Economic Quality sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Zambia compares to other countries.

Prosperity Gap

The ‘Prosperity Gap’ takes a country's GDP and uses it as the yardstick to measure a nation's expected Prosperity Index ranking.

Zambia is a lower-middle income country that delivers prosperity as expected given its wealth –a trend that has not changed over the last decade.

In the chart above, each dot represents a country. The curve shows the general tendency with which prosperity increases as GDP per capita increases. If a country falls below the curve, then we can say that compared to all other countries, it is under-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Likewise, if a country rises above the curve, then we can say that it is over-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Learn more about the Prosperity Gap here.

Alternatively, have a look at the Prosperity Gap view on our Rankings table for a full list of countries and to see how each of them are performing on the various sub-indices.


In 2016, Zambia reveals the typical features of many post-independence African countries, where poverty remains widespread and health issues persist, but innovative polices and concerted efforts to make the country more attractive for foreign investment are key in delivering more prosperity.

Like many of its peers in Southern Africa, Zambia has been badly affected by El Nino-related poor harvests, one of the most severe droughts in decades. Considering the country's already high level of relative poverty, the lack of adequate food has now become priority number one. Effective ways of dealing with food shortages are needed that take into account the country’s population, one of the fastest growing in the world. One way to do this would be through a diversification of the economy, which is now relying almost exclusively on copper –of which the country is a major producer. Overall, the vulnerability of the economy to fluctuating market prices, as well as relative poverty at 60% and inequality worsened by weather-related shocks, have significantly limited economic growth. It comes as no surprise then that Economic Quality is Zambia’s weakest performance, in which the country has a significant prosperity deficit.

On the other hand, Zambia’s best performance in the Business Environment sub-index mirrors the country’s successful efforts to become an attractive place for investment. Zambia’s natural resources, as well as its peaceful post-independence history, have made it a good place for new businesses and foreign investment, as shown by the significant presence of Chinese investment in the area.

If the Economic Quality sub-index is the weakest one, Zambia’s best performance in the Business Environment sub-index reveals a country that has become an attractive place for investments.
If the Economic Quality sub-index is the weakest one, Zambia’s best performance in the Business Environment sub-index reveals a country that has become an attractive place for investments.

Further evidence that Zambia is on the right track towards prosperity is provided by its good performance in the Governance sub-index: since 2007, Zambians have expressed more confidence in the national government, whose effectiveness has in fact improved. The political situation can benefit from a stability that has characterised the country in its post-independent history, an exception among its regional peers. Last August’s Presidential election just confirmed this trend with all the international observers praising the peaceful conduct of the election, which saw the confirmation in office of President Lungu.

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How to read this graph:
When comparing multiple countries on a spider chart, data points that appear
further away from the center represent a better performance to the points that are closer to the center.

Special Analysis

Special Analysis


Zambia has become more prosperous since 2007, with notable improvements in the Business Environment and Governance. However, its potential to deliver more prosperity remains limited by poor performances especially in the Economic Quality, Health, and Education sub-indices.

Areas of Success
Areas of Success

Zambia has posted a 27 and 20 rank improvement in the Business Environment and Governance sub-indices respectively over the last ten years. Behind these remarkable performances there is the absence of major conflict since independence, as well as the presence of a democratic and stable political environment. These favorable conditions have laid the ground for developing policies aimed at improving the country’s prosperity. The increase in the protection of intellectual property and better access to credit, as well as more competitiveness in the market, are examples of this concerted effort to develop Zambia’s national potential.

Areas of Little Change
Areas of Little Change

Little change has been recorded in the Safety & Security and Personal Freedom sub-indices. A considerable share of Zambians still face difficulties in accessing adequate food and shelter, and both percentages have increased since 2012. On the other hand, while tolerance towards ethnic minorities and immigrants remains unchanged, people’s satisfaction with their personal freedom has improved by 20%. Yet, freedom of the press remains low, with the media frequently accused of being pro-government.

Areas of Improvement
Areas of Improvement

The Economic Quality sub-index is the one with the biggest prosperity deficit, which has remained significant since 2007, in stark contrast to the notable improvement in the Business Environment sub-index. Additionally, and although both the Education and the Health sub-indices have slightly improved over the last ten years, Zambia’s performances here remain weak. In particular, education quality and attendance need improvement. Of concern is also the high mortality rate and high levels of TB-related deaths.