International investors, mining industry experts and commentators turned their attention to Zambia this January, as the country’s government took a strategic stake in the copper industry in a $1.5 billion deal. For thirty years, Zambia has been celebrated as an investment proposition for those looking for quality assets in the extractive industry, but for those without local knowledge, accessing the market has been challenging.
Zuneid Yousuf is one man changing all that. The founder and CEO of Zumran Mining and Exploration, Yousuf presents himself as international capital’s natural resources partner in Zambia and beyond. A seasoned global entrepreneur with a strong track record in natural resources, Yousuf is one of Africa’s leading businessmen. Based in the UAE with strong roots in Zambia, he has led Zumran to become the most exciting producer in Zambia’s famed copper belt.
Yousuf started his business career in the textiles industry, honing his entrepreneurial skills through the import and export of clothes from a base in the United Kingdom. After his family returned to Zambia in the mid-1990s, Yousuf spearheaded the development of the extractive industry in the country through his family business, eventually reaching the position Zumran holds today in the extractive sector. Zumran is constantly unveiling new projects in copper, gold, manganese and associated metals, with the potential to become the region’s leading producer.
Yousuf’s business interests are varied, and have encompassed everything from fast moving consumer goods to farming and agricultural services. African Green Resources, Yousuf’s agri-tech venture, is meeting the twin challenges of food security and economic development with a bottom-up approach. His entrepreneurial spirit is evident in each venture, placing the highest value on upholding integrity and a core belief that African businesses can shine brightly in an international context.
Business has always been Yousuf’s first priority, but as a global leader he is also highly respected for his philanthropy and his thought leadership. In 2020, he was among the first to recognise that the next head of the WTO must be an African, in an article for the Africa Report. An expert on the geopolitics of international trade, in his message of congratulations to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, appointed WTO Director General in February 2021, Yousuf wrote of the need for the trade to deliver on the promise of growth and prosperity for Africa.
Yousuf’s vision is for African business, working hand in hand with international partners, to fuel global growth. He has spent the past 30 years building the relationships, knowledge and experience, both local and global, to deliver on that goal. Today, Yousuf and Zumran Mining and Exploration offer unrivalled opportunities for international partners to access Zambia’s rich natural resources.
It is in Zambia’s copper belt that Yousuf’s international network has been so important. Investors in the mining sector look to Zambia for its political stability, supportive business environment, and abundance of mineral deposits. Zambia has a vast endowment of metals, gemstones, industrial minerals and potential energy sources. Coal, hydrocarbons and even uranium are produced by the country’s extractive sector.
Zambia is the world’s seventh largest producer of copper, which accounts for 70% of the country’s export earnings. But international investors have struggled to find local partners with investable propositions in the sector. Until January, Glencore was the major international player in the copper belt. With the Zambian Government purchasing Glencore’s Zambian assets in a mutually beneficial deal, investors have been searching for companies to bridge the gap between local knowledge and an international approach.
Zumran, under the leadership of Zuneid Yousuf, provides exactly that combination of global outlook and local expertise. From his base in the UAE, Yousuf brings together business leaders, financiers and private capital, creating partnerships to address the world’s most pressing challenges. Despite his globetrotting lifestyle, he has never turned his back on his African roots. Zumran’s success has been built on its understanding of the African model and its local relationships in Zambia and beyond.
Partnership is the second ingredient in Zumran’s recipe for success. From Zumran’s highly prized copper and cobalt licences to its ventures in gold, manganese, tin and titanium, the company’s projects have been built on bringing together entrepreneurial partners with a shared vision of prosperity and potential. As the company looks to the next stage in its evolution, with acquisition targets focused on some of Zambia’s most iconic licences, Yousuf is assembling partners for a set of deals that commentators suggest could have a transformational impact on global natural resources sector.
Yousuf himself, however, remains humble, saying that success and prosperity is savoured best when it is shared – with partners, through philanthropic projects, and with the people of Zambia.