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Vision & Mission
Vision: “A vibrant national economy, leading to continuous improvement in the country’s Human Development Index”.
Mission: “To provide wider appreciation of the key role of free markets and competition in economic development”.

»Latest Journal
Markets and Governments

The History of ZIPPA

By Murray Sanderson, co-founder of the Zambia Institute for Public Policy Analysis

Sir Antony Fisher founded no think tank in Zambia. In fact, he never set foot on Zambian soil, yet he was the prime mover in setting up the Zambia Institute for Public Policy Analysis (ZIPPA).  It happened like this.


A friend of mine suggested that I establish a think tank. To me, a naturalized Zambian entrepreneur and frequent contributor to the press, the idea was a non-starter.  I had no experience in the think tank world and no notion of how to go about such a task.

A year or so later the same friend lent me a copy of Forbes Magazine.  It contained a review of Gerald Frost’s book, Antony Fisher: Champion of Liberty.  I ordered the book and was duly inspired by Fisher’s ideas and example.  I was also impressed by his foresight in setting up the Atlas Economic Research Foundation to promote the creation of a world-wide family of think tanks in order to extend the intellectual revolution pioneered by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA, United Kingdom). The turning point for me was the book’s 83 page appendix with its details of 92 related think tanks around the world. Here was an international family which an infant institute could join, and from which it could obtain help and guidance. The impossible had suddenly become possible. 

The book had a similar impact on the future chairman of ZIPPA, psychologist Muyunda Mwanalushi, and on other founding members.  After much thought and planning, and with encouragement from John Blundell of the Institute of Economic Affairs, ZIPPA was registered in 2004. Its vision is to see, ‘A vibrant national economy, leading to continuous improvement in the Country’s Human Development Index;’ and its mission, ‘To promote wider appreciation of the key role of free markets and competition in economic development.’  The Institute was launched in September that year at meetings in the capital, Lusaka, and Kitwe, which is located north of the capital, on the Copperbelt. Another Fisher-inspired think tank had been born.

Launching a think tank can be fairly straightforward, provided one has the example of Antony Fisher and the advice of Atlas. Recruiting members, building a firm foundation and developing the institute into a positive influence on public opinion and public policy can prove to be far more difficult.

<PULL-QUOTE>The road to prosperity is long and hard but we at ZIPPA are determined to undertake the journey.  In doing so, we take inspiration from the example of Antony Fisher and the world-wide, common-sense revolution which he pioneered.

ZIPPA’s first activity was to publish a quarterly journal.  Publications are low cost undertakings when distribution is by email and the journal has been well received.  In addition to some 600 addressees, who include many opinion leaders, at the request of the National Assembly hard copies are distributed to Zambia’s 158 Members of Parliament. Each issue addresses a specific topic. Most of the articles are written by Zambians, with a sprinkling of contributors from abroad. The Free Market Foundation (South Africa) is a source of well-written and clearly targeted articles. Good contributions have also come from members of the Atlas network in Chile and India.

Effective writing depends on informed thinking. Here we must mention the valuable help received in the form of literature.  John Blundell of the IEA provided generous personal assistance with some 40 well-chosen books to start our library, and The Fraser Institute (Canada) also contributed several works. Regular additions continue to be received from the IEA, International Policy Network (IPN; United Kingdom), and the Cato Institute (Washington, DC).

Other generous help and encouragement has been received from Atlas, Fraser, and IPN, as well as from Inter-Region Economic Network (IREN; Kenya). This has enabled ZIPPA representatives to attend a number of useful conferences, including the annual Economic Freedom of the World conferences in Cape Town and Oman and Africa Think Tank Leadership Conference in Nairobi.  In February 2007, IPN sponsored seven participants from Zambia to attend the second Mont Pelerin Society meeting ever held in Africa. Among the Zambian participants were two influential weekly columnists in Zambia’s main daily paper, and a supportive member of parliament.

ZIPPA has also supported other organizations, including giving some assistance to Africa Fighting Malaria (South Africa) in its research into preventive action by the mining industry. ZIPPA is currently also involved in a survey of schools in the Kitwe District.  This project is being carried out under the leadership of Professor James Tooley of Newcastle University as a small part of his research into the role of private schools in providing education for the poor.

Regarding Zambia’s economic thinking and development, we must openly admit that we have only just started on a long journey.  For the past 15 years, the Zambian government has been professedly in favor of free markets and less state intervention. But the country remains one of the poorest in Africa, despite its now thriving mining industry. Public opinion tends to blame the lack of economic development on ‘neo-liberal’ free-market policies.  Changing the current mindset will be an up hill battle.  It is a task, moreover, which the Institute still lacks resources to undertake.  Raising the funds to set up a small secretariat with a full-time chief executive is proving harder than expected, but we are by no means disheartened.  Instead of holding out the begging bowl, ZIPPA must emphasize what it can contribute.  Our access to Members of Parliament is a valuable opportunity, and we must make good use of it.

A crucial area where we are working to make an impact is in the arena of economic understanding.  One important opportunity here is in a potential Zambian edition of the impressive report, ‘Habits of Highly Effective Countries.’  Leon Louw of South Africa’s Free Market Foundation wrote this report at the request of the South African Government.  He is willing to produce a Zambian version of the report, if the necessary funding can be found.

This is an exciting time in Zambia. The road to prosperity is long and hard but we at ZIPPA are determined to undertake the journey.  In doing so, we take inspiration from the example of Antony Fisher and the world-wide, common-sense revolution which he pioneered.


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