• Power crisis as dams dry up also inhibits economic growth
  • Country most vulnerable in sub-Saharan Africa to El Nino

Zambia’s economy will expand by about 3 percent this year, less than half the 7 percent targeted in the 2015 budget, as plunging copper prices and a power shortage hobble growth, Vice President Inonge Wina said.

Growth will improve to 4 percent in 2016, Wina said in a speech Wednesday read for her by Roland Msiska, secretary to the cabinet. Low water levels at the hydropower dams the country relies on for almost all of its electricity will cause generation to slump by about 39 percent this year, Wina said.

“Zambia faces its toughest economic challenges in at least a decade,” Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg, the World Bank’s local country manager, said in a speech at the same event in the capital, Lusaka.

The lender forecasts GDP growth of 3 percent to 3.5 percent for this year and next before the economy rebounds to expand by 5 percent to 6 percent by 2018, the World Bank said in a statement released Wednesday. Zambia is the most vulnerable country in sub-Saharan Africa to what could be the strongest El Nino weather system on record, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts, including Oyinkansola Anubi, said in an e-mailed note on Nov. 18.

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