Zambia - Zambie (ZM)

1.  Language information / Données sur les langues

1.1  Languages spoken / Langues parlées

a) Official / Officielle(s) :

English, as stipulated in the constitution.

b) National, indigenous / Nationale(s), indigène(s) :

Ethnologue notes that: "Bemba is recognized for educational and administrative purposes." and that "Nyanja is] The official language of the police and Zambia regiment. ... the language of education, administration."

Manchisi notes that there are seven languages "recognised as official languages": Kikaonde, Lunda, Luvale, Cinyanja, Cibemba, Citonga, and Silozi . Aménagement notes that these languages may be used orally in government administration (English being used in written form).

Ethnologue lists 41 maternal languages at

The Languages of Zambia Home Page lists 70 with an interactive map at

c) Relevant pages in the Major Languages section of this report / Pages appropriées dans la section de ce rapport sur les Langues principales :

Bemba, Chewa/Nyanja, Lozi, Tumbuka, Tsonga (Tonga)[verify], Nyakusa, Chokwe/Ruund, Shona

1.2  Policy / Politique

a) Laws/legislation / Lois/législation :

The site L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde has a page on Zambia at

b) Agencies / Agences :

Five institutions "involved in or responsible for African Language research" in Zambia (UNESCO 1985). Updated information is needed:

  • Institute for African Studies, University of Zambia, P.O. Box 900 - LUSAKA
  • The Zambia language Group, School of Education, University of Zambia, P.O. Box 2379 - LUSAKA
  • Department of Literature and Languages, University of Zambia P.O. Box 2379 - LUSAKA
  • The Curriculum Development Centre, P.O. Box 50092 - LUSAKA
  • The Educational Research Bureau, P.O. Box 2379 - LUSAKA

c) Languages in education/literacy / Langues dans l'éducation/l'alphabétisation :

English was the only and is still the main language of instruction. Some effort to introduce instruction in or of seven main national languages has been made (Bemba, Kaonde, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tonga), but apparently with few results in the field.

According to an article in, in July 2005 the Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) asked that science and math be taught in children's first languages. An alternative link to the article:

UNDP (2006) gives a literacy figure (without reference to which language[s]) of: 68%

1.3  Writing in national/indigenous languages / Ecriture en langues nationales/indigènes

a) Orthographies / Orthographes :

The Latin alphabet is used. This is detailed in the 1977 publication entitled: Zambian Languages: Orthography Approved by the Ministry of Education. (A table from this book is reproduced below)

According to Kashoki et al (1998) the process of arriving at the orthographies for Zambian languages focused on individual languages, not harmonization of transcription across languages. Nevertheless in the end it did achieve a measure of harmonization (i.e., so that letters have the same value in the writing of diverse languages).

A listing of the alphabets of 7 Zambian languages from Zambian Languages (Chimuka 1977):

b) Print publications / Editions imprimées :

Apparently there are some books and newspapers in Bemba.

UNESCO (1985) reported the following periodicals (name, frequency of publication, circulation, language). Updated information is needed:

  • Intanda, monthly, 6,000, Tonga
  • Liseli, monthly, 7,700, Lozi
  • Lukanga, monthly, 5,500, Lenye
  • Mbila, monthly, 20,000, Bemba
  • Ngoma, monthly, 3,000, Kaonde/Lunda/Luvale
  • Tsopano, monthly, 9,000, Bemba

1.4  Other comments / Autre commentaire

2.  ICT situation / Situation des TIC

2.1  Infrastructure / Infrastructure

a) Telephones / Téléphones :

  • Fixed lines: Telephone mainlines: 8 per 1000 people (APC)
  • Mobile subscriptions: 150,000 (1.3 per 100 people) (ITU 2004 cited in Vodafone 2005)

b) Radio stations / Stations de radio :

c) Connectivity / Connectivité :

  • International internet bandwidth / Bande passante internationale d'internet :
  • ISPs / FSI : 6 (Zamnet, Zamtel Online, Coppernet, UUnet, Microlink, Celtel) (Towards an African e-Index)
  • Geographic coverage / Couverture géographique :

2.2  Computer & internet access / Accès aux ordinateurs et à l'internet

a) Computers & points of access / Ordinateurs et lieux d'accès :

  • Number of computers / Nombre d'ordinateurs: 7 per 1000 people (APC)
  • Cybercafés / Cybercafés:
    • "Internet cafés and business bureaus offer telephone and Internet access in major urban centres and a few rural towns. In 2004, there were about 400 licensed telecentres across the country. Most of these are along the main railway line, due to the relatively good telecommunications infrastructure, low operation costs and high number of potential users." (Towards an African e-Index)
    • "There are more cyber cafés in Lusaka than Copperbelt." (Towards an African e-Index)
  • Project telecentres / Télécentres de projets:

b) Internet / Internet :

  • Dial-up subscribers / Abonnés par ligne téléphonique : "almost 12,000" (Towards an African e-Index)
  • Internet users / Utilisateurs de l'internet : 231,000 Internet users as of Sept/05, 2.1% of the population, per ITU (Internet World Stats)

"The majority those using the Internet are the youth and workers. Few people in rural areas have access to the Internet, and those with the inclination must travel to towns and cities to access Internet services. Apart from Internet cafés, offices and learning institutions, a few homes have Internet access. Respondents say inadequate knowledge of the Internet, and prohibitive costs, are among the factors that dissuade some people from using it. Other factors are distance to Internet cafés, access speed and overcrowding in the cafés." (Towards an African e-Index)

c) Other / Autre :

  • Digital Opportunity Index (DOI): 0.13 (ITU 2006)

2.3  Policy / Politique

"The mission statement for Zambia’s ICT policy is 'to enhance and accelerate sustainable economic growth and social development through the provision of affordable and universally accessible ICTs.'" (Towards an African e-Index)

"Current policy developments in the ICT sector include the preparation of the Cyber Bill, which was approved by Cabinet in 2004 but has not been promulgated. The bill addresses matters pertaining to issues like Internet security, privacy, data protection, digital frauds and hacking controls. The final draft of the national ICT policy has since been produced, spearheaded by the Ministry of Communications and Transport. The draft policy underwent an extensive consultative process and efforts to enact legislation to accommodate the new policy are already under way." (Towards an African e-Index)

The APC page, "ICT Policy in Zambia" has some information and links:

2.4  ICT4D/E & ICT training / TIC pour le développement/éducation, et formation en TIC

IICD has a page on Zambia at . Projects include:

  • National knowledge sharing platform, eBrain
  • Eleven project ideas emerged from a roundtable in Lusaka in 2006, all concerning "Improving Access to Rural Health Care and Delivery Services"

2.5  Resources / Ressources

3.  Localisation situation / Situation de localisation

3.1  Country web content / Contenu web du pays

3.2  Web content in indigenous languages / Contenu web en langues indigènes

(See also specific language pages.)

3.3  Software localisation / Localisation de logiciel

(See also specific language pages.)

3.4  Projects & organisations / Projets et organisations

4.  References / Références

APC, "ICT Policy in Zambia," Africa ICT Policy Monitor,

Bickmore, Lee S., "Languages of Zambia Home Page,"

Chimuka, S. S. 1977. Zambian languages : orthography approved by the Ministry of Education. Lusaka: NECZAM

International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 2006. World Information Society Report 2006. Geneva: ITU.

______. 2004. African Telecommunication Indicators 2004. Geneva: ITU.

Internet World Stats: Africa. 2006.

Kashoki, M.E., M.E. Katengo, and M. Mundia. 1998. "Cross-border Language Perspectives: Experiences and Lessons from Zambia Focus on SiLozi." In K. Legère, ed. Cross-border languages : reports and studies, Regional Workshop on Cross-Border Languages, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Okahandja, 23-27 September 1996. Windhoek : Gamsberg Macmillan.

Leclerc, Jacques. L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, "Zambie,"

Manchisi, P.C. 2004. "The Status of Indigenous Languages in Institutions of Learning in Zambia: Past, Present, and Future." African Symposium, Vol. 4, No. 1, March 2004

Mulavu, Sikaaba, et al. 2005. "Zambia." In Gillwald, Alison (ed.), Towards an African e-Index: Household and individual ICT Access and Usage Across 10 African Countries. (Research ICT Africa!, )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Languages of Zambia,"

______, "Bemba,"

______, "Nyanja,"

UNDP. 2006. ''Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Human Development Report 2006.'' New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). [Human development index Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) (HDI) ]

UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa. 1985. African Community Languages and Their Use in Literacy and Education: A Regional Survey. Dakar: UNESCO.

Vodafone. 2005. "Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones." The Vodafone Policy Paper Series, Number 3, March 2005.

Wikipedia, "Zambia,"

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