Legal market overview in Zambia
Zambia’s initial economic performance during 2019 mirrored the region, with its projected 4.2% annual growth rate only just outpacing the 4% growth projected for the African continent as a whole. However, GDP was revised down towards the end of the year, following adverse weather conditions, which blighted crops and affected energy output at hydropower plants. The agriculture sector accounts for around a fifth of Zambia’s economy and has been hit hard: production of maize, the principal cash crop, is expected to fall by around 16% during 2019. In addition, the mineral-rich country is set to see copper production fall by around 100,000 tons during 2019, following an increased tax burden on mining companies. As Africa’s second-largest copper producer, Zambia depends on mining receipts for around 12% of its GDP. On a positive note, the government’s commitment to diversifying the economy away from its over-reliance on the mining sector has seen a recent infrastructure investment boom, largely supported by China-based loans. Big-ticket projects currently under development include the Copperbelt International Airport and the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway project. The recent arrival of two new global law firm brands into Zambia’s mature legal market is testament to its perceived growth potential. Dentons entered in 2019 through a merger with Eric Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners, while Andersen Global moved in through a collaboration agreement with Mulenga Mundashi Kasonde (MMK) Legal Practitioners. Zambia’s compact legal market is comprised of both sophisticated full-service law firms and smaller more niche outfits, with the latter usually noted for their specialist litigation expertise. Among the most well-established international facing firms, Chibesakunda & Co (a member of the DLA Africa alliance), Corpus Legal Practitioners and Musa Dudhia & Company (a member of the ALN legal alliance) are regularly sought after for their transactional and cross-border capability. For contentious work, ECB Legal Practitioners, Mulenga Mundashi Kasonde (MMK) Legal Practitioners and Eric Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners are highly regarded. Although largely centred in the country’s capital Lusaka, some firms are headquartered in Kitwe, which is the base for several mining operations.