Indian Community in Zambia
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Indian Community in Zambia

Indians from Gujarat arrived in what was then the British territory of North-Eastern Rhodesia (later part of Northern Rhodesia and then Zambia) in 1905 via Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) or the British Central Africa Protectorate (now Malawi). Unlike the population of Indians in South Africa, the proportion of indentured labourers among them was quite small; most instead were skilled artisans or businesspeople. Initial settlers were Muslims, they were followed by Hindu traders. Indians always formed a much smaller portion of the population than Europeans, but their numbers continued to increase until the 1950s; in 1930, the ratio of Europeans to Indians was 300:1, but by 1951 the proportion had shifted to just 10:1. One main driver for this was the expansion in Northern Rhodesia's mining industry in the late 1940s, which attracted demobilised Indians. Immigration again accelerated around 1953, for fears that the new federal government of Northern Rhodesia would place restrictions on Indian migration.

Indians came to Zambia and made it home even before Zambia became independent in 1964. After Zambia achieved independence in 1964, the government started looking to India for material and moral support, and since then the Indian community has played a meaningful role in the Zambian economy. Many are in professions like banking, retail, farming and mining.

Zambia has a large and vibrant Indian community many of
them had settled down in Zambia decades ago. There are about
35,000 Indians/ PIOs in Zambia and some have taken up Zambian nationality and/or British nationality. Majority of Indians/PIOs are from Gujarat State. Zambians of Indian origin play a significant role in Zambia's economy, especially in trade, industry, hospitality and transport sectors. Indians have held public offices and have occupied government positions. During the President Chiluba's regime, two persons of Indian origin were appointed as the Cabinet Ministers: Mr. Suresh Desai, Minister of Agriculture and Mr. Dipak Patel, Minister of Commerce & Industry who continued to hold the same portfolio in President Mwanawasa's government. In March 2019, Ms. Abha Patel was appointed a Judge in High Court of Zambia, first Indian national to hold such a post in Zambia. In recent years, the renewed rise of India's economic and commercial engagement has seen a visible growth in the number of Indian professionals especially in Indian owned enterprises. President Hakainde Hichilema has recently included Mr. Nitesh Patel as board member of the reconstituted Industrial Development Corporation Board.

Trade and commerce, mining and hospitality, healthcare and academics - the Indian community does its bit for Zambia in so many fields. They come from various parts of our country - Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and many other states and regions. Zambians of Indian origin have played a significant role in Zambia's economy, especially in trade, industry, pharmaceuticals, edible oils, hospitality and transport sectors. The Indian community is also becoming more engaged in precious and semi-precious stones mining, agriculture, horticulture and chemicals.

In recent years, the renewed rise of India's economic and commercial engagement has seen a visible growth in the number of Indian professionals especially in Indian owned enterprises. Zambia, with its rich natural resources, has become an important destination for Indian investments particularly in the mining sector. With an investment of over US$5bn, India is one of the leading investors in Zambia.India's Investments in Zambia include Indo-Zambia Bank which was established in 1984, as a joint venture between GoZ and three Indian public sector banks i.e. Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Central Bank of India. The three Indian PSUs hold 60% equity with the remaining 40% held by the Zambian government. The IZB operates the largest network of banks and a cornerstone of Zambia's banking sector. It has become a byword for banking in the country. It is a milestone in India's relations with Zambia and is an example of a mutually beneficial, solid joint venture partnerships that has withstood the test of time. Exim Bank of India had a 34% share in Development Bank of Zambia. Since the end of 2012, its equity stood at 2.4%.

Other prominent Indian investments are from M/s Bharti Airtel under the brand Airtel Zambia, investments of the TATA Group including hotel Taj Pamodzi, Tata Motors Ltd, Neelkanth Group of Companies, PLR Projects and Parrogate, Nava Bharat Singapore a subsidiary of the Nava Bharat Ventures Ltd of Hyderabad, M/s RJ Corporation, the authorized bottlers of Pepsi Co. in Zambia to name a few. In addition, there are several other Indian companies who have made sizeable investments in various fields of the Zambian economy and trade. Trade Kings, a company owned by Zambian Indians, have invested over US$125 million and have set up the first ever integrated steel plant in the country at Kafue.

The community actively participates in various cultural and business events organised by the High Commission particularly under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.


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