Most expats working in Zambia have been transferred there to work within their organisation’s local branch, such as larger banks, mining corporations and some telecommunications giants. Others find employment in the tourism or healthcare sector, at NGOs, or as volunteers or missionary workers.
Job market in Zambia
Agriculture plays a central role in Zambia’s economy, accounting for the vast majority of employment in both the formal and informal sectors. There are few service jobs in Zambia, and industry is largely focused around copper mining, which means expats with expertise in the mining sector are often able to find lucrative employment. Tourism is also a major industry in Zambia.
Unemployment rates are high and a large percentage of the country's population continues to live below the poverty line. Almost all unskilled and service work is done by locals and there is little opportunity for foreigners without valuable skills.
Finding a job in Zambia
Expats working in Zambia require a valid work permit. While there are no major restrictions for expats seeking work opportunities in Zambia, foreigners are not permitted to work in human resources positions. Expats can utilise online job portals to find jobs, make use of social-networking sites such as LinkedIn, or get in touch with a recruitment company to help with the process.
Work culture in Zambia
Although Zambians are known for formality in conducting business, they are also friendly and welcoming to expats. A relaxed attitude to time may be something expats will need to adjust to in the workplace. Zambians are never really in a hurry and deadlines are somewhat of a vague concept, while meetings and appointments rarely begin at the designated time.
Expats from countries with flat hierarchical structures in the workplace will find that businesses in Zambia are run from the top down. It is crucial to show respect towards one's seniors. Titles are important – always refer to someone by their title unless instructed otherwise.
►For an overview of what expats can expect to pay for basic goods and services, see Cost of Living in Zambia
"I was very well informed regarding work permits, so I did not have any problems. By law, work permits must be obtained by employers. I have an official investor passport so that makes a very big difference. But Zambia immigration is very strict on the issue, so do not underestimate their controls."
Read more about Belgian expat Jacques's experiences in Zambia.
Are you an expat living in Zambia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Zambia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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