Zambia has been slammed by the plunging price of copper, which is its main export and the source of up to 80% of its foreign currency reserves. Jitters about soft demand in China for the red metal—viewed as a proxy for industrial production—has driven the price down to six and a half-year lows of $4,450 a ton this month.

That in turn has sent the Zambian currency diving to all-time lows of about 14 kwacha to the U.S. dollar  last month. It has since bounced back somewhat to 11 kwacha as Zambian diaspora returning home for the festive season buy local currency.

The government of president Edgar Lungu is struggling to cope as it scrambles for foreign currency to repay bonds denominated in hard currency that the country took out when it was seen as a fast-growing economic success story just a few years ago.

Aside from man-made economic woes, Zambia can also blame Mother Nature in part for its predicament. Last year’s rainy season, which coincides with the summer in the southern hemisphere, was worse than usual, reducing crop yields especially for the staple maize and tobacco, which is a major export crop.

The poor rains also starved have reduced water levels in the mainstay Zambezi River, which along with the Kafue River produces most of the country’s power.Zambians would normally be counting on rapidly rising river levels around this time of year as the rainy season kicks into gear.

However, the record-setting El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is causing drought conditions across the entire southern African continent. That raises the prospect that rains will never start in earnest this season, keeping water levels low for the better part of another year.

So as hard-pressed Zambians were already struggling to figure out a reason to be cheerful this holiday season, the massive blackout is a reminder that even leaner days likely lie ahead.

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