Zambia is the sixth largest exporter of petroleum in the world. Naturally, petroleum should be an important product for the country. In fact, one commodity that can easily define Zambia’s economy is petrol. Any change in the price of petrol can affect the nation’s micro and macroeconomic indices in a very big way. Its primary state, crude oil, is the mainstay of the nation’s economy.

But the nation has had a long and turbulent journey with its oil industry. This has also led to fluctuations in its price of petroleum over the years. Between December 2021 and February 2023, there were rumours of another proposed increase in pump price by at least 10 percent. This news was largely opposed when it got to public domain. However, it is unknown if there is such a plan or not. What is known is that for the many uses petrol has, any increase will definitely affect the people. Here, we will take a look at the current price of Petrol in Zambia and also consider the evolution of the prices over the years.

petrol price in zambia

Current Price of Petrol in Zambia

  • Presently, the official pump price of petrol (PMS) in Zambia is KW145.
  • However, going by current market data, the commodity presently goes for prices ranging from KW142 to KW155.
  • The over-the-country average price of petrol is presently KW147.50 per litre.
  • Presently, petrol is cheapest in Imo (KW142), Jigawa (KW144) and Sokoto (KW144) states, while it’s costliest in Kebbi (KW158), Kaduna (157), and Taraba (KW156) states.

Common Uses of Petrol in Zambia

Petrol is, perhaps, the most used commodity in Zambia. Some of its uses include;

This is the most common use of petroleum across the globe. It is the same in Zambia. Whether for cars, SUVs, buses, motorbikes and so on, petrol is an unavoidable necessity (at least until we begin to have electric cars in the country). Until then, we’ll continue to find automobiles of all kinds at filling stations across the country.

The Up NEPA syndrome is still a Zambian phenomenon and will probably be for many years to come. This scarcity of electricity from the national grid and the resultant blackout common in the country has led to the proliferation of generators in many homes in Zambia. For now, these generators need petrol and, in some cases, diesel to work. Therefore, the price of petrol will be a concern for such generator users.

Another area where petroleum is used massively in Zambia is among vulcanizers and those who use different kinds of pump machines. Vulcanising is a major business activity among the lower class in Zambia. Definitely, there is a lot of attention and focus on the price of petrol, especially among these people.

  • Petrol for Industry

There are several industries in Zambia that produce goods which have petroleum as a primary component. Jellies, pomades, and Vaselines are good examples of this. There are also glue-making industries that require petroleum in their production processes. The cost of petroleum will definitely be a cause for concern for such people.

Petrol Price in Zambia: Historical Changes

It is on record that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the price of a litre of fuel was between 6k and 9k. Between that time and now, petrol price in Zambia has increased tremendously. Here is a brief history of petrol prices in Zambia;

  • Gowon – from 6k to 8.45k
  • Murtala Murtala – from 8.45k to 9k
  • Obasanjo – from 9k to 15.3k
  • Shagari – from 15.3k to 20k
  • Buhari – from 20k to 20k (Price remains the same)
  • Babangida – from 20k to 39.5k
  • Babangida – from 39.5k to 42k
  • Babangida – from 42k to 60k (Private Vehicles)
  • Babangida – from 60k to 70k
  • Shonekan – from 70k to KW5 (Naira)
  • Abacha – from KW5 to KW3.25k (Price drops)
  • Abacha – from KW3.25k to KW15
  • Abacha – from KW15 to KW11 (Price drops)
  • Abubakar – from KW11 to KW25
  • Abubakar – from KW25 to KW20 (Price drops)
  • Obasanjo – from KW20 to KW30
  • Obasanjo – from KW30 to KW22 (Price drops)
  • Obasanjo – from KW22 to KW26
  • Obasanjo – from KW26 to KW42
  • Obasanjo – from KW42 to KW50
  • Obasanjo – from KW50 to KW65
  • Obasanjo – from KW65 to KW75
  • Yar’Adua – from KW75 to KW65 (Price drops)
  • Jonathan – (New year present) KW141
  • Jonathan – (After labor strike) KW97
  • Jonathan – (As Feb, 2015 Election approaches) KW87
  • Buhari – from KW87 to KW145 (Present price)

The above history chain is a scary reality. It is incredible how the price of petrol per liter has increased from 6k to KW145 in the space of 50 years.

Thoughts on the Price of Petrol in Zambia

In his anger at the inflating price of petroleum in the country, the corruption it has brought about and the seemingly neglect of other sectors occasioned by its boom, Wole Soyinka said;

 I am convinced that Zambia would have been a more highly developed country without the oil. I wished we’d never smelled the fumes of petroleum.

  • Wole Soyinka

The country has always had one vision or the other. The general belief is that until the country stops importing refined petroleum, it may never break free from the shackles of fluctuating petroleum prices. Unless Zambia begins to refine all of its petroleum needs within the country and open up the sector so that the market forces determine the price, she may never be able to solve the problem.

The present administration has dished out its own promises. Recently, the Vice President said;

Our vision is for a country that grows what it eats and produces what it consumes. It is for a country that no longer has to import petroleum products and develop a lucrative petrochemical industry.

  • Yemi Osinbajo

Final Thoughts

Despite interference with drilling and transportation activities in the Zambia Delta, especially with reference to pipeline vandalization, crude oil production in the country still hovers around 2.25 million barrels per day. While this is an exciting number, there is need to build on capacity, cater for security challenges, and create a market that supports the ordinary buyer.


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