Country Profile

Zambia is one of the fastest growing economies in the Sub-Saharan Africa region with an average annual Real GDP growth rate of 6% over the last decade. It has a population of 14.54 million (2013).  Zambia is only 40 urban2 but is rapidly urbanizing.

By 2010, Zambia had a total of 2.8 million dwelling units, roughly the same number as the number of households, of which about 50 percent was built in non-permanent materials. Forty-five percent of the dwellings in urban areas are owner-occupied, out of which only 0.36% owners hold a mortgage3, and 44 percent are private rental units (2010 data).

At the end of 2013, 9 financial institutions made mortgage loans, 6 commercial banks and 3 building societies.4. The total mortgage debt outstanding was 1.5 percent of the GDP in 2012, which is extremely small for a rapidly urbanizing country. Banks make loans to a maximum of 90 percent of the value of the house, with a repayment term of maximum 20 years. The debt service ratio cannot exceed 40 percent of the individual income. Formal sector house prices in urban areas are high relative to incomes, creating a severe affordability problem. Most lenders serve only high-income households.

The primary source of funds for mortgage lending is deposits from consumers, supplemented by loans from pension funds, insurance companies and social security companies. No long-term funding sources are available in the country which limits the size of mortgage portfolios for lenders. Credit risk is another main concern for lenders.

Property right systems have improved and are clearly defined:  State land leased for 99 years; Land rented by local chief/headman; land owned by councils. It takes an average of 40 days to register/transfer titles in Zambia, but only a small percentage of urban properties has a registered title.

The micro-finance industry is well developed in the country. Non-collateralized micro-finance loans are offered for housing by deposit-taking institutions and two NGO’s- the Zambia Homeless Poor Peoples Fund and Habitat for Humanity Zambia.


1.       CSO 2010 Census of Population and Housing, Zambia.

2.       Central Statistics Office, Zambia 2010 CLMS.

3.       Central Statistics Office, Percentage Distribution of Housing Units.

4.       Scoping study: Overview of the Housing Finance sector in Zambia, by FinMark Trust

5.       Scoping study: Overview of the Housing Finance sector in Zambia, by FinMark Trust.

About the Editor

Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF)

The Center for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa is a not-for-profit company with a mission to make Africa's housing finance markets work, with special attention on access to housing finance for the poor. We pursue this mission through the dissemination of research and market intelligence, supporting cross-sector collaborations and a market-based approach. The overall goal is to see an increase of investment in affordable housing and housing finance throughout Africa: more players and better products, with a specific focus on the poor. Our work covers four main areas: (1) understanding housing markets, (2) monitoring housing sector performance, (3) exploring innovation in housing finance, and (4) supporting housing finance market development. Since its formation, the CAHF has come to be known as the most comprehensive and up to date source of information on housing finance in Africa. Our work is available on our website: