Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 11/8/2017

The Zambia telecommunications sector has achieved significant development over the last decade.  Building on the 1994 reforms, which opened the telecommunication market to new entrants, the sector has experienced rapid growth.  Market penetration is still low while prevailing prices are high indicating that the market is still largely underdeveloped with room for considerably more competition.  In 2009, Zambia established the national Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy for regulating the telecommunication sector in the country.  The Zambia National Information and Communications Technology ICT policy was developed based on thirteen pillars and three core thematic areas namely capacity building, effective regulatory and legal framework, and competitive ICT sector.  To regulate the information and communication sector, the government established the Zambia Information and Communications Authority (ZICTA).
E-commerce is a growing market in Zambia.  There is a different growth rate for different channels and mobile commerce is by far the fastest growing.  The 2016 ZICTA report indicates that Zambia’s internet subscriber base fell from 6.1 million to 5.2 million in 2016.  The drop in 2016 is attributed to the high cost of data services resulting in users turning to basic handsets instead of data-enabled phones.  Notable industries exploiting e-commerce space include banks and telecommunication companies.
Current Market trends:
Information and Communication Technologies Act Number 15 of 2009 guides ICT operations in Zambia.  ZICTA provides for the regulation of information and communication technology; facilitates access to information and communication technologies; protects the right and interests of service providers and consumers; repealed the Telecommunications Act 1994 and the Radio Communications Act 1994; and provides for matters connected with or incidentals to the foregoing.  
Most purchase in Zambia is through the mobile commerce channels namely:
a)         Credit Cards
b)         Debit Cards
c)         Automated Teller Machine (ATM) bill payments
d)         Kiosks
e)         Mobile devices
The major m-commerce channel is the mobile platform because of the coverage of mobile data networks.  The government is building more communication towers to house base stations, enabling increased coverage for data access.
Domestic eCommerce:
eCommerce business to the consumer market is still developing.  There is not much discussion on domestic eCommerce but most Zambians are comfortable with purchase of electricity tokens, digital TV purchase, water bill payment, and cardless transactions like eWallet.
Cross-Border eCommerce:
The top countries from where Zambians make online purchases include:
a) USA (eBay)
b) United Kingdom (eBay)
c) China (Alibaba)
Products range from electronics to footwear, clothing, accessories, motor vehicle spare parts, and motor vehicles.  Some challenges of online purchases are purchasing defective, poor quality gadgets or products and the supply of false information.  Other challenges include the lack of information by the service provider such as contact details, right to withdrawal, non-receipt of the item purchased, terms and conditions, costs such as customs duty, value added tax, and import declaration fee.
B2B eCommerce:
Zambia is developing a B2B portal which is developing a database of suppliers and buyers and providing electronic tools to enable buyers submit tender information and receive bids from suppliers.  This will increase trade between local small and medium enterprises and large companies. 
Other entities take advantage of the B2B concept.  For example the national pensions fund (NAPSA) has partnered with several banks to enable payments of pension contributions.  Other partnerships include:  
a) Zambia Electricity Supply Company is integrating with IT companies for purchase and payment of electricity tokens
b) Banks partnering with private companies in providing payment platforms to enable bank accounts to be debited for online transactions
c) Water utility companies partnering with system integrators to allow for online payments of bills
d) Pay television and many more services and products can be paid via the following channels:
1) Mobile banking
2) SMS Banking
3) ATM
4) Kiosk
5) Website
6) Credit Cards
7) Debit cards
eCommerce Services:
The main service providers that help key industries are:
a)         Mobile telecoms operators in providing
1) Unstructured Supplementary Service Data Services
2) Data Services
3) Short Messaging Services
b)         Banks in providing access to accounts for purchases
c)         Service providers such as:
1) Tax Organizations
2) Pensions
3) Electricity
4) Water
5) Television
Popular eCommerce Sites:
The most commonly consumed platforms include:
a) Zambia Revenue Authority, used for paying domestic taxes and customs services.
b) National Pension Scheme Authority
c) Patent and Company Registration Office
d) Zoona – an electronic transfer service that enables consumers to send or receive money within Zambia.  The company offers services through a distribution network of cash agents and retailers countrywide.  Through Zoona, consumers can pay bills, make loan repayments, and buy electronic vouchers.
e) Dot Com Zambia –a shopping platform that allows users to shop online from in-country (Zambia) and from international retailers located in the United Kingdom, United States, and China.  The company also offers a digital bus ticketing system for sub-Saharan Africa.
Online Payment
The most common payment methods for online e-commerce transactions in Zambia include:
a)         Mobile based
1) Mobile money
2) eWallet
3) Mobile banking
b)         Credit cards
c)         Debit Cards
d)         ATM
e)         Kiosk
f)         Web sites
g)         Paybills.co.zm (a payment service that allows customers in Zambia to pay utility bills, pay television subscriptions, and buy air time using VISA or MasterCard)
Mobile eCommerce
U.S. businesses can leverage the following vehicles for eCommerce that have become more widely available:
a)         Mobile Apps for
            1) Agri-business
2) Match making
3) Payments
4) Insurance
5) Banking
b)         System integration that enable systems to communicate among each other
c)         Toll gates and pre-paid systems
d)         Point of Sale for various business houses
Digital Marketing
There are very few digital marking houses in Zambia.  Several websites offer free space for advertising on their websites but oftentimes does not guarantee much traffic.  Large, energy-intensive digital screens located at major intersections are a popular form of advertising used by many companies.
There is no single portal to register for online advertising.  Below are a few that offer advertising opportunities:
Zambia-U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Info Zambia - Advertising
Zambia Tourism - Victoria Falls
Livingstone Tourism Association
Major Buying Holidays
The major consumer “buying holidays” and most popular shopping days on eCommerce in Zambia include:
a)         Christmas
b)         Agriculture and Commercial Show
c)         Trade Fairs
d)         Easter
e)         New Year
Social Media
There is a surge in social media usage, especially in the urban areas where there is mobile data coverage.
The following are trending:

  • Facebook – attracts a younger audience
  • WhatsApp is very popular among all age groups
  1. Business networking
  2. Socializing
  3. Groups for collaboration
  • Voice and video calls
  • Twitter is not very popular in Zambia

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Zambia eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce