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Copper prices cripple Zambia's economy

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 01:30

Africa's second biggest copper producer is struggling after months of falling prices. As Shanade James reports, after a year in power Zambia's President is finding it hard to keep his election pledges on the economy.

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Zambia is Africa's second largest copper producer. Hard to believe when you look at some parts of the capital Lusaka. Slowing demand from China for its biggest export has pushed prices down - leaving its currency struggling. It's the worst economic crisis here since 1991. Brian Mutambo is a taxi driver. (SOUNDBITE) (Bemba) BRIAN MUTAMBO, KALINGALINGA RESIDENT, SAYING: "The economy has been getting tougher especially in the last year. Prices of essential goods are way too high and the currency is making things worse. I have children that I need feed, clothe and educate." President Edgar Lungu took up office a year ago. He promised to make food and fuel more affordable. Now he says his government can't control prices. And all day power cuts are a regular occurrence. Zambia's mining sector is suffering the most. Recent falls in copper prices have already led to job losses. And there could be more on the way. The government says it won't bail the mines out. But last year Zambia's GDP was just 3.6 percent - half what was expected. Inflation is also a worry, says political analyst Neo Simutanyi. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEO SIMUTANYI ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ANALYST, CENTRE FOR POLICY DIALOGUE SAYING: "People are really concerned about prices which have gone very high. They're talking about inflation of 19 percent or so from around seven to eight percent from when Edgar Lungu took office, so it has more less tripled in a very short space of time." This year GDP is also expected to be below 4 percent. And there's no end in sight to the global commodities rout.

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Copper prices cripple Zambia's economy

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 01:30