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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08LUSAKA529
2008-05-14 14:24:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Lusaka
Cable title:  

ZAMBIA APRIL 2008 ECONOMIC ROUNDUP

Tags:   EMIN  ECON  EINV  ENRG  EPET  EFIN  ZA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO4216
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLS #0529/01 1351424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141424Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5804
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUSAKA 000529 

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/S AND EEB/CBA - DENNIS WINSTEAD
COMMERCE FOR 4510/ITA/IEP/ANESA/OA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EMIN ECON EINV ENRG EPET EFIN ZA
SUBJECT: ZAMBIA APRIL 2008 ECONOMIC ROUNDUP

REF: A) LUSAKA 479
B) LUSAKA 396
C) LUSAKA 349



1. SUMMARY
-- Inflation Rises to Double Digits
-- New Mineral Tax Regime Approved
-- GRZ Revises Mines and Mineral Development Act
-- GRZ Offers Uranium Mining Licenses
-- GRZ Phases Out Leaded Fuel
-- Celtel Offers Shares
-- LuSe to Automate its Trading System

Inflation Rises to Double Digits



2. The Central Statistical Office (CSO) recorded a year-on-year
inflation rate of 10.1 percent for the month of April, reflecting a
slight increase from the March rate of 9.8 percent. CSO Director
Elfrida Chulu attributed the upward movement to food and energy
price increases. Rising fuel costs as well as localized food
shortages, due to flooding earlier in the year, will continue to
exert strong inflationary pressure. By septel (Ref A), Post
reported in greater detail on the impact of rising food and
agricultural commodity prices in Zambia.

New Mineral Tax Regime Approved



3. The GRZ's new mineral tax regime (Ref C), which includes higher
royalty and corporate tax rates and introduces a windfall tax, was
approved by Parliament on April 1. Although several mining
companies have threatened to take legal action against the GRZ for
introducing tax rates that violate the terms of their development
agreements (Ref B), some companies now appear to have accepted the
new regime. Deb Bandyopadhyay, Director of Konkola Copper Mine,
Zambia's largest copper mine, told reporters: ?The new taxes are an
Act of Parliament. We cannot fight with Government over something
that is law. We shall not go to court or renegotiate the new tax."
Despite high international prices, however, a Mopani Copper Mines
representative announced that his company will have to reduce its
workforce in order to meet the new tax obligations. Other mine
representatives told Embassy officers that until a statutory
instrument is introduced, the new tax regime is not completely
final, and discussions continue with the GRZ.

GRZ Revises Mines and Mineral Development Act



4. Parliament also approved a revised Mines and Mineral Development
Act that terminates all existing mining development agreements and
forbids the Minister of Mines from entering into future development
agreements. The law stipulates penalties to companies that fail to
pay royalties on time. It also limits non-Zambian ownership of
mining enterprises to 49 percent in order to increase local
participation in the mining sector. The law calls for the
establishment of a mining rights registry to facilitate mineral
exploration, requires investors to provide plans for empowering
Zambians, reserves industrial mineral mining to Zambians, and
prohibits the renewal of prospecting licenses.

GRZ Offers Uranium Mining Licenses



5. Mines and Mineral Development Minister Kalombo Mwansa told
reporters that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) has approved regulations for mining uranium in Zambia.
Mwansa indicated that the GRZ will incorporate the IAEA guidelines
into Zambian law by August, after which the Ministry will begin
issuing uranium mining licenses. Prospectors include OMEGA
Corporation Minerals, AIM Resources, Energy Ventures, Equinox
Resources, Zambezi Resources, African Energy Resources, Aldershot
Resources, Lithic Metals and Energy, Kiwara Resources, and Globe
Uranium. According to press reports, Africa Energy Resources
intends to produce enough uranium to generate one thousand mega
watts of electricity annually.

GRZ Phases Out Leaded Fuel



6. The GRZ ban on leaded fuel took effect on April 1. The
government- controlled and private sector-operated Indeni Refinery,
which is the principal supplier of fuel products throughout Zambia,
shifted its production from leaded to unleaded fuel in March 2008.
Many private sector representatives confirmed that they managed to
deplete their supplies of leaded fuel by March 31. To facilitate
this process, the Energy Regulation Board hosted workshops in 2007.
This development brings Zambia into belated compliance with SADC
requirements that SADC member states phase out leaded fuel by
January 2006.

Celtel Offers Shares

LUSAKA 00000529 002 OF 002





7. Zambia's largest mobile telephone service provider has made an
initial public offering on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) of 1.04
billion shares, which amounts to 20 percent of its total equity.
Celtel Zambia, a subsidiary of Zain Group of Companies of Kuwait,
currently has a 78 percent market share and a subscriber base of 1.9
million customers. Celtel is the first cellular company in Zambia
to list its shares on the LuSE. According to advisors managing the
IPO, this share offering is five times larger than any previous
offering on the LuSE.

LuSE to Automate its Trading System



8. LuSE General Manager Beatrice Nkanza announced in Lusaka that her
company had engaged MIT, a Sri Lankan company, to install an
automated trading system, which will offer cross listings and real
time information sharing and will enable investors and brokers in
outlying areas to engage in Internet trading. The LuSE, which was
established in 1993, currently has 17 listed companies.

MARTINEZ