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Zambia economy grows by an estimated 7.1 percent in 2010, helped by rising copper production, inflation also up.

posted 6 Jan 2011, 14:37 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 6 Jan 2011, 14:41 ]

Zambia's economy grows more than its government forecast in 2010, as Africa's biggest copper producer sees demand for the metal soar.

Zambia's economy grew by an estimated 7.1 percent in 2010, the Central Statistics Office said last week, topping a government forecast and helped by rising copper production as demand for the metal surged.

Zambia is Africa 's biggest copper producer and the provisional economic growth estimate for 2010 beat the economy's 6.4 percent expansion last year.

"These preliminary estimates of 7.1 per cent which we have estimated is 0.5 percentage point higher than the 6.6 per cent projected by the ministry of Finance and National planning at the beginning of the year. Us as Central Statistical office, we do not project, we estimate, we come up with numbers based on what we have, the data that we have collected," Said John Kalumbi, who is acting director for Zambia 's Central Statistical Office.

In October Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane forecast economic growth of 6.6 percent in 2010, and 6.4 percent in 2011.

Zambia is one of the better-performing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, which the IMF forecasts will average 5 percent growth across the region this year.

The southern African state has averaged 5 percent annual growth over the last six years, driven mainly by a rebound in copper production, which had declined for nearly three decades until 2004.

Zambia aims to double the contribution of mining to gross domestic product by 2015 by attracting investment in the sector.

A Reuters poll last month forecast the economy would grow 6.6 percent this year.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also said inflation accelerated to 7.9 percent year-on-year in December, from 7.1 percent in November, mainly due to food prices.

Food prices rose by 4.4 percent, up from a 2.5 percent rise in November. December is usually marked by increased spending on food as people celebrate Christmas.

"Changes in food prices have, they have contributed 2.2 percentage points to overall inflation of 7.9 per cent. We can see that last month the food products accounted for 1.2 but now they have accounted for 2.2 per cent," Kalumbi said.

Despite the up-tick, consumer inflation is still below a central bank target of 8 percent by year-end.

With a general election likely around September, many analysts also expect elevated public spending, which would boost the economy and jobs but could fuel inflation and put pressure on the budget.

The CSO said the trade account recorded a surplus of 860.4 billion kwacha (186.4 million US dollars) in November compared with a revised 568.8 billion kwacha surplus in October.