Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa, bordered by Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the south-east, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, a narrow strip of Namibia known as the Caprivi Strip to the south-west, Angola to the west, and the DRC to the north-west.
Population: 14 million
Plugs: European 2-pin, British 3-pin
Dialling code: +260
Currency: Zambian kwacha – $1=5.5ZMW
Language: English and over 70 local dialects
The economy revolves around copper and continues to grow, thanks to higher commodity prices and investments made after privatisation. The Zambian government is pursuing an economic diversification programme to reduce the economy’s reliance on the copper industry. This initiative seeks to exploit other components of Zambia’s rich resource base, by promoting agriculture, tourism, gemstone mining and hydro-power.
The bulk of the population is concentrated in a few urban areas along the major transport corridors. The capital, Lusaka, is the largest city located in the south. Other significant regions are the mining areas of Ndola and Kitwe which have their own airports, and Livingstone, which is the gateway to the Victoria Falls and a prime tourist spot.
BUSINESS TRAVEL ACTIVITY
Encouragingly, from an international point of view, Emirates added more than 1,600 seats a week to its Lusaka and Harare routes, by introducing a Boeing 777-300ER on its daily flight from Dubai in the UAE.
Further to that, Air Namibia introduced four flights a week between Harare and Lusaka. Air Namibia now flies from Harare to Lusaka on Sundays and Wednesdays, and the return trip takes place on Mondays and Fridays.
Unfortunately, the airline news wasn’t all good, as British Airways announced the cancellation of their services between London Heathrow and Lusaka, citing commercial reasons.
Local carriers also haven’t fared too well for various reasons, with Zambian Airways, Zambia Airlines and Zambezi Airlines all not trading as of mid-2013.
That being said, Proflight Zambia has managed to prosper and was quite active in 2013, celebrating its first international scheduled air service from Lusaka to Lilongwe, Malawi. Proflight followed that up later in the year with the launch of flights from Lusaka to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. That service now runs three times a week.
Proflight announced at the same time that it was also considering services to Harare, Tete and Johannesburg, subject to regulatory approval. Further to that, November saw the airline increase the frequency of its Lilongwe flights from three to four flights a week.
On the hotel front, Protea Hotels announced that it was increasing the capacity of its Protea Hotel Lusaka property from 100 to 237 rooms, with the construction of a new wing due for completion by February.
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport is the largest airport in Zambia. It is located 27 kilometres from the capital city of Lusaka and taxis are plentiful. However, most of the hotels in Lusaka provide transfers.
The airport is well maintained and offers travellers access to airport car rental firms, airport transfer services, meeting facilities, foreign exchange bureau, duty-free stores, a post office and a restaurant.
Through Priority Pass, travellers have access to the Iapco Club Lounge at Kenneth Kaunda International. This lounge is located airside – proceed into the main departure hall where the lounge is on the immediate left-hand side. It is open daily, but hours vary according to international flight schedules. Conditions include: limited to guest per cardholder; all children must be accompanied by an adult; non-smoking; telephone, fax, Wi-Fi and Internet access facilities are all subject to payment. The lounge also offers guests air-conditioning; disabled access; newspapers/magazines; TV; refreshments and conference facilities.
July 2013 saw First National Bank Zambia launch its first FNB Lounge at KKIA – the first of its kind from a bank in Zambia. FNB Premier Banking clients can use their Platinum card to gain exclusive access, and the lounge is Wi-Fi enabled with broadband Internet, catered for by Mugg and Bean, and provides comfortable wash and change rooms.
Recommended check-in time is three hours before for all international flights.
“Although it is an old airport built in 1950, it is fairly well maintained,” says Kagiso Dumasi, Commercial Manager Africa for BCD Travel. “Zambians are warm, friendly and humble. Upon arrival, immigration has been improved, with electronic finger print and biometric screening making the immigration process a lot more efficient.”
Focusing on Lusaka, there are a couple of major brand hotels within a 20 kilometre radius of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
They include the Cresta Golfview, Protea Hotel Lusaka and Protea Hotel Cairo Road, Radisson Blu Lusaka, InterContinental Lusaka, and the Taj Pamodzi. These are the most prominent hotels, and you won’t go wrong with any of these properties, particularly as they enjoy the backing of an established hotel group.
Another safe bet is going with Tsogo Sun Hotels, which operates the StayEasy Lusaka and the Southern Sun Ridgeway, which was formerly the Holiday Inn.
“For me, the recommended hotels in Lusaka are the Hotel InterContinental, the Pamodzi Hotel, the Radisson Blu, Cresta Lodge, and the Golden Bridge Hotel, whilst there are also many other boutique hotels and budget lodges,” says Chris Schuitmaker, Manager: Regional Business & Partner Management Africa for HRG Rennies.
“My favourite is the Taj Pamodzi, mainly due to the staff and the excellent service,” says Dumasi. “No request is too big or small. Travel essentials such as complimentary Wi-Fi, a gym, business centre and health club are all available for guests. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport.”
Further south in the tourist centre of Livingstone and in close proximity to the Victoria Falls, Sun International operates the 5-star Royal Livingstone and the 3-star Zambezi Sun, Protea has one property, and further up the Zambezi river, Royal Chundu’s two lodges stand out among the lodge options.
Although using forms of payment other than cash is growing in popularity, travellers should not depend on credit to get around the country.
Visa is the card of choice in this part of Africa, MasterCard is far less popular, and use of all other cards is virtually unheard of outside of the international hotel chains. It is worth noting that a MasterCard will not work in a Visa ATM or Visa card swipe machine. If you only have MasterCard, be prepared to be declined! Currently, Barclays and Stanbic are the only banks that operate MasterCard ATMs.
Ensure you have other payment options when travelling in Zambia.
Passport holders from the following African countries do not require visas – Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Business travellers can obtain a visa at the port of entry, but must produce an invitation letter. Business visits by a single individual cannot exceed 30 days in a 12-month period.
The cell phone industry in Zambia has boomed in recent years, with a highly competitive market now in place, with three main operators: Airtel, MTN and Zamtel.
Generally speaking, Airtel has the largest network.
If visitors plan on roaming with their non-Zambian SIM cards, they should check first to see if their home operator has made any roaming agreements. Zambia is usually not high on the list. Also note that the roaming prices are expensive and coverage in rural areas can be unreliable.
Vaccinations for yellow fever are required and travellers are also recommended to take precautions against polio, typhoid, rabies and hepatitis A and B, and tetanus. There is a high risk of malaria. Travellers should pack insect repellent to prevent being bitten by tsetse flies, which spread African sleeping sickness. Do not swim or wade in bodies of fresh water because of bilharzia. Ensure drinking water is bought in sealed bottles.
Zambia is a fairly safe destination, but travellers should be aware of their surroundings in public, avoid carrying unnecessary valuables and avoid walking alone at night.
“The road infrastructure is very good and the city (Lusaka) is well organised,” says Dumasi. “The number of public Wi-Fi hotspots is increasing and the access can be purchased on a prepaid basis. You can get around the city safely and comfortably, either by taxi or a hired vehicle. As English is the main spoken language, you will find it easy to get around and also get help. Dress code is formal, but a light suit paired with a cotton shirt is highly recommended, as the temperature soars above 32 degrees during the day almost all year round.”
Karin Sieberhagen – Sales & Marketing Manager, South Africa: Serena Hotels
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka generally works well. The baggage handling is fairly quick and I recommend you allow two hours for check-in.
The departure signs were a little hard to interpret, so passengers should be aware that they need to go a level down in order to get to a departure gate.
It takes about half an hour from the airport into town, and I found the traffic flow fine. Taxis are available outside the airport, but most hotels will have airport shuttles.
I stayed at the Radisson Blu Lusaka. It is a fairly new hotel, so it felt rather special. I found its dome-like structure particularly attractive – at first it reminded me of a planetarium! The rooms were nice, with free Wi-Fi and excellent air-conditioning. I found the food adequate and the bar area very pleasant in the evenings. The Radisson is also a convenient location to meet business partners and it offers good conference facilities.
Generally, Zambia is very business friendly. It is becoming a proper regional hub and is growing its business ties with East Africa. Most passengers from Lusaka fly into Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
South African visitors will feel at home and recognise familiar restaurant brands, like Wimpy, Spur and Mugg & Bean, whilst the ATM machines work easily with South African bank cards.
As with the Radisson, Wi-Fi is available in most corporate offices.
Air Botswana – www.airbotswana.co.bw
Air Namibia – www.airnamibia.com.na
Airlink – www.flyairlink.com
British Airways – www.ba.com (Comair)
EgyptAir – www.egyptair.com
Emirates – www.emirates.com
Ethiopian – www.ethiopianairlines.com
Interair – www.interair.co.za
Kenya Airways – www.kenya-airways.com
KLM – www.klm.com
Kulula – www.kulula.com
Precision – www.precisionairtz.com
SAA – www.flysaa.com
SA Express – www.flyexpress.com
TAAG – www.taag.com
Turkish – www.turkishairlines.com
Chita Lodge – www.chita.co.zm
Chrismar – www.chrismarhotels.com
Cresta Golfview – www.crestahotels.com
Cross Roads Lodge – www.crossroadslodges.com
Diamondacres – www.hoteldiamondacres.com
Eight Reedbuck – www.tribehotels.co.zm
Golden Bridge – goldenbridgezambia.com
InterContinental Lusaka – www.ihg.com
Kanyemba Lodge – www.kanyemba.com
Mulungushi Village Complex – www.mvcl.co.zm
Ndeke Hotel – www.gardengroupzambia.com
Protea Cairo Road – www.proteahotels.com
Protea Lusaka – www.proteahotels.com
Radisson Blu Lusaka – www.radissonblu.com
Southern Sun Ridgeway – www.tsogosunhotels.com
StayEasy Lusaka – www.tsogosunhotels.com
Taj Ramodzi – www.tajhotels.com
The Lusaka Hotel – www.lusakahotel.com
Avis – www.avis.com
Europcar – www.europcar.com
Access-to-Africa – www.access-to-africa.com
American Express – www.americaexpresstravel.co.za
CWT – www.carlsonwagonlit.com
HRG – www.hrgworldwide.com
XL Travel – www.xltravel.co.za