IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd January, 2024 International Relations

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  • The Mines Ministry has proposed sending an Indian industry delegation to copper-rich Zambia to discuss potential copper exploration and mining projects in the southern African country.

Copper Reserves in Zambia:

  • Zambia possesses approximately 6% of the world's copper reserves.
  • Ranked the eighth-largest producer of copper globally in 2022.
  • Copper is vital in construction, consumer durables, transportation, and clean energy technologies.

India Zambia Joint Working Group (JWG) Meetings:

  • The JWG, established under an MoU signed in August 2019, aims for collaboration in the mining sector.
  • Ministry of Mines, announced the upcoming second JWG meeting in Zambia during a stakeholder meeting on October 18, 2023.
  • The Ministry aims for a combined business delegation involving both private and public sectors for effective collaboration.

Copper Demand in India:

  • Domestic copper demand grew by 16% in FY2022-2023.
  • Clean energy technology-related copper demand increased by 32%.
  • Net imports of copper cathode grew by 180%, reflecting India's dependence on foreign supply due to low domestic reserves.

India's Presence in Zambia's Copper Sector:

  • Limited Indian presence; Vedanta regained control of Konkola Copper Mines in 2022.
  • Vedanta pledged over $1.2 billion for increased copper output and debt repayment.
  • Vedanta advised to share business insights with the industry considering its experience.

Foreign Investors in Zambia:

  • Canada-based First Quantum Minerals and China's CNMC are significant investors.
  • CNMC plans $1.3 billion in investments to boost output.

Interest from Indian Companies:

  • Hindustan Zinc, owned by Vedanta, and Ola Electric show interest in Zambia's copper mining opportunities.

Upcoming JWG Meeting:

  • The schedule for the second JWG meeting not disclosed.
  • Vedanta, Ola Electric, and LOHUM's potential involvement in the industry delegation for the meeting.
  • The focus is on collaborative efforts to meet increasing copper demand in India.

India-Zambia Relations: Key Points

Political Ties:

  • Historical Inspirations: Zambian leaders, including Kenneth Kaunda, drew inspiration from India's freedom struggle, with Mahatma Gandhi being particularly revered.

Bilateral Visits: 

  • High-Level Engagements: Various high-level visits have marked the historical relationship, with leaders from both countries visiting and fostering diplomatic ties.
  • Recent Visits: President Edgar Chagwa Lungu's state visit in 2019 resulted in key agreements, including defense cooperation, health, and culture.

Development Cooperation:

  • Beneficial Cooperation: Zambia has significantly benefited from India's development cooperation, receiving credits, railway wagons, flood relief, scholarships, and specialized training programs.
  • Key Projects: Projects like the ItezhiTezhi Hydropower Project and Lusaka City Road De-Congestion showcase successful collaboration.

Bilateral Trade:

  • India has emerged as a significant trading partner, exporting pharmaceuticals, machinery, and textiles to Zambia.
  • In return, Zambia contributes to the bilateral economic relationship through the export of copper and minerals.
  • The main products exported from Zambia to India were Precious Stones ($71.8M), Raw Lead ($11.8M), and Soybeans ($3.75M).
  • During the last 26 years the exports of Zambia to India have increased at an annualized rate of 0.86%, from $78M in 1995 to $97.3M in 2021. In 2021, India exported $431M to Zambia.
  • Steady Growth: Bilateral trade has been growing steadily, reaching over US$1 billion in recent years, though logistical challenges and Zambia's landlocked location hinder the full potential.
  • Trade Dynamics: India exports drugs, machinery, and textiles, while Zambia exports non-ferrous metals, ores, and semi-precious stones to India.
  • Indian Investments: Strategic Investments: India has pledged over US$5 billion in investments, with significant contributions in sectors like banking, mining, pharmaceuticals, and power projects.
  • Noteworthy Investors: Vedanta Resources, TATA, Bharti Airtel, and Nava Bharat are among Indian companies with substantial investments in Zambia.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • Cultural Exchanges: ICCR-sponsored cultural troupes, participation in festivals, and academic programs strengthen cultural ties between the two nations.
  • People-to-People Bond: The Indian community in Zambia, estimated at 25,000, plays a crucial role in trade, industry, and diverse sectors, contributing to Zambia's economy.

Zambia [Geography Perspective]

Location and Neighbors:

  • Zambia is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa.
  • Bordered by eight countries: Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Namibia to the west, Angola to the west, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north.

Capital and Major Cities:

  • Capital: Lusaka.
  • Other Major Cities: Ndola, Kitwe, Kabwe.

Physical Features:

  • Dominated by a high plateau with an average elevation of about 1,200 meters.
  • The Zambezi River, one of Africa's major rivers, flows through the country, forming its southern border with Zimbabwe.


  • Tropical climate with three distinct seasons: a cool, dry winter (May to August), a hot, dry season (September to November), and a warm, wet season (December to April).
  • The country is prone to occasional droughts and floods.

Natural Resources:

  • Abundant natural resources include copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, uranium, and hydropower potential.
  • Zambia is known for its significant copper reserves, contributing to its status as a major copper producer.

National Parks and Wildlife:

  • Home to diverse wildlife, Zambia has numerous national parks and game reserves.
  • South Luangwa National Park is renowned for its wildlife diversity, including elephants, lions, and leopards.


  • Relies heavily on copper mining, contributing a substantial portion to the country's GDP.
  • Agriculture is a vital sector, employing a large portion of the population.

Victoria Falls:

  • The Victoria Falls, one of the world's largest and most famous waterfalls, is located on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a major tourist attraction.

Political History:

  • Formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia gained independence from British colonial rule in 1964.
  • Kenneth Kaunda became the first President of Zambia.

Population and Languages:

  • Diverse ethnic groups, with the majority belonging to the Bantu-speaking population.
  • Official language is English, and several indigenous languages are spoken.


  • Developing infrastructure, including transportation networks, with the TAZARA Railway connecting Zambia to Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port.
  • Expansion of road networks to enhance connectivity

Health Challenges:

  • Faces health challenges, including the prevalence of diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS.
  • Government initiatives and international support aim to address health issues.


  • India-Zambia relations have deep historical roots, characterized by political admiration, economic collaboration, and strong people-to-people connections.
  • Ongoing development projects, trade ties, and cultural exchanges underscore the commitment to a mutually beneficial partnership.


Q. Consider the following statements about Zambia:

1.Zambia shares its borders with Namibia, Mozambique, and Angola.

2.The Zambezi River forms the southern border of Zambia with Zimbabwe.

3.Kitwe is one of the major cities in Zambia.

4.The official language of Zambia is French.

How many of the above statements are correct?

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Only 3

d) All

Answer: c) Only 3


Statement 1: Zambia is bordered by Namibia, Mozambique, and Angola. This statement is incorrect as Zambia is actually bordered by Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Statement 2: The Zambezi River forms the southern border of Zambia with Zimbabwe. This statement is correct.

Statement 3: Kitwe is one of the major cities in Zambia. This statement is correct.

Statement 4: The official language of Zambia is French. This statement is incorrect as the official language of Zambia is English, and several indigenous languages are also spoken.

Therefore, the correct answer is: c) Only 3


Q. Discuss the potential implications of India's interest in Zambia's copper sector. Analyze the historical, political, economic, and cultural aspects of India-Zambia relations, emphasizing the role of Indian investments, bilateral trade dynamics, and the cultural cooperation between the two nations.