Zambia lifts USD ban for domestic transactions

The tourism industry in Zambia has welcomed the immediate revocation of statutory instruments number 55 and number 33. They were implemented in 2012 and respectively empowered the Bank of Zambia to monitor international transactions and prohibited companies from using foreign currency for domestic transactions.

These instruments have been a huge challenge for the tourism industry as tourism service providers were suddenly exposed to major foreign exchange losses arising from the volatility of the exchange rate. Karien Kermer, Managing Director of Wildside Tours & Safaris in Livingstone, says: “In the tourism industry the revoking of SI 33 has been positively received.  It will stabilise the prices for tourism products.”
Kermer says the instruments didn’t mean that tour operators could not receive US dollars from outside the country but all the transactions had to be approved by the Bank of Zambia. “All very inconvenient and time-consuming procedures,” she says.

The SI 33 also meant that Zambian companies had to be invoiced in Zambia Kwacha by other Zambian operators. With the fluctuations of the Kwacha against the USD, the smaller middleman was heavily affected, especially since the pricing of tourism products or packages is usually advertised internationally six to 18 months in advance. Kermer says: “I would be paid for all my sales from outside the country and online in USD. I had to pay the operators in ZMW and the bank would gain, I would lose all time.”

According to Kermer, credit card machines in Zambia are currently already changed back to USD machines, which will simplify transactions for foreign travellers.