Foreign investment into solar products are helping to plug Zambia's power shortage problems.
Africa editor, BBC World Service
The UK-based mining firm Vedanta Resources has agreed to settle all claims brought against it by Zambian villagers concerning pollution by a copper mine.
The claim was brought by more than 2,500 villagers, including children, against Konkola Copper Mines Plc and its parent company Vedanta.
The mining companies did not admit liability. The settlement amount has not been disclosed.
The claimants alleged that toxic discharge from the Nchanga mine damaged land and waterways.
Britain's Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the case could be brought against Vedanta in English courts because the company owed villagers a duty of care.
A new variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Kenya, preliminary research by the state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has revealed.
The variant, unique to Kenya, had been detected in the south-east of the country following a study done between June and October, Kemri said.
More research needed to be done to asses the impact of the variant, it added. It is perfectly normal for viruses to mutate, scientists say.
Kenya has so far recorded nearly 100,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 1,700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states - neighbouring Botswana, Zambia and The Gambia in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Africa has now topped three million Covid-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak, it said.
An average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases, the WHO said.
"Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point," it added.
Zambia's President Edgar Lungu has dismissed Health Minister, Chitalu Chilufya, who was arrested in June for corruption but was later cleared.
Mr Chilufya was charged with four counts of being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime. He was cleared for lack of evidence and resumed his duties.
President Lungu on Sunday gave no reason for the minister's dismissal, but said the decision took effect immediately.
The BBC's Kennedy Gondwe reports that the health ministry has been rocked by a string of corruption allegations, the latest being the supply of $17m (£12m) worth of faulty condoms and surgical gloves.
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema said "the sacking of Dr Chitalu Chilufya does not go far enough and comes in too little too late".
BBC News, Lusaka
The Zambian FA has banned a local coach from its activities after he was convicted of raping and infecting a juvenile with syphilis and HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
Former Zambia player Dudley Fichite is currently serving a life sentence for the offence but has lately been sitting on the bench for the Prison Leopards team, which is sponsored by the Zambia Correctional Services.
Following a public outcry, the Football Association of Zambia (Faz) has written to Leopard asking them to withdraw Fichite from their technical bench.
Faz general secretary Adrian Kashala fears Fichite’s presence may bring the name of the game into disrepute.
BBC News, Lusaka
President Edgar Lungu has called for increased local control over the ownership of mines in the country.
Mining is the backbone of the southern African nation but most mines are owned by foreign firms.
Mr Lungu, who is visiting the Copperbelt region, said this must change.
“We will ensure to safeguard our sovereignty in the mining sector. The mining sector should change and for the better,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I refuse to believe that Zambians cannot run the mines. One day we must have the mines being run by Zambians. We can do it.”
In 2019, the Zambian government placed Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), owned by India-based group Vedanta, under liquidation.
But the Court of Appeal ordered in November a halt to the liquidation to allow for arbitration. Mr Lungu insists that “chapter is closed”.
“I'm happy that some of the operations that had closed down here at KCM have been brought back to life. I'm proud,” he added.
“I have stated that no amount of intimidation will make government change its position on the KCM issue.”
Zambians will vote in August to elect a new parliament and president. Mr Lungu will be seeking a second and last term.
BBC News, LusakaCopyright: AFP
A Zambian MP has compared a nationwide distribution of condoms and sterile gloves despite the products failing safety tests as "genocide".
“What the ministry of health is doing is genocide,” lawmaker Mwansa Mbulakulima told the BBC.
“When you put water in those gloves and condoms, they’re leaking. How many people have died from September as a result of this negligence."
The MP said he was concerned about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and coronavirus.
Mr Mbulakulima and his colleagues in a parliamentary committee heard on Wednesday how Honey Bee, a local company, secured a $17m (£12m) contract to supply the condoms and gloves which were found to be faulty.
"The gloves are supposed to be used by frontline workers in the fight against Covid and they have been distributed countrywide despite them being faulty," said Mr Mbulakulima.
The company's director Imran Lunat accused the auditor general’s office of being biased in its reports which found that the firm didn't have a physical address, state-owned Daily Mail reports.
The audit also found that the contract was awarded on a Sunday, which is not an official working day.
Kakulubelwa Mulalelo, the permanent secretary in charge of administration in the health ministry, told the committee she had no idea who authorised the contract, but only attended the launch of the distribution of the products.
Ms Mulalelo said her ministry “regrets” the incident while officials from the Zambia Medicines and Regulatory Authority admitted lapses in awarding of the contract.
Zambians on Twitter have expressed their anger and incredulity at the revelations:
By Murray Burnell
BBC Sport Africa
BBC News, Lusaka
The mayor of Zambia's capital, Lusaka, will have far fewer guests at his wedding than he had hoped for after the authorities restricted the number of attendees to only 300 to adhere to Covid-19 regulations.
Miles Sampa booked the 10,000 seater Lusaka’s Woodlands stadium for the 26 December event after sending an open invitation to Zambians.
Mr Sampa told the BBC he had no choice but to comply with the ministry of health's Covid-19 guidelines but said the restrictions had put him in a dilemma about who to invite:
“Our line up already has 50 people... when I add artists, security and support staff to the list, we are already towards 200 people. So who to invite and not invite was the headache I was trying to avoid.”
He said he did not want to invite "ordinary Lusaka residents" anymore to avoid accusations of favouritism, but he will award television rights to an unnamed local station.
Local companies and well wishers have been contributing to pay for the event which some have dubbed the "wedding of the year".
But Mr Sampa has said that the money donated will be used to pay for the Woodlands stadium venue.
He also said that donated foodstuffs will be given to Lusaka residents even if it means sending “packed lunch boxes to their homes”.
BBC Focus on Africa radio
The mayor of Zambia's capital, Lusaka, has stirred a bit of controversy by planning to hold his wedding in a stadium in the city while the coronavirus measures say weddings should be limited to 50 people.
But Miles Sampa defended his decision on BBC Focus on Africa radio by saying that it wasn't his choice but "the people of Lusaka told me that they wanted to attend the wedding".
His said that a pre-wedding event at his home was mobbed by hundreds of people.
To avoid overcrowding, he has decided to hold the wedding ceremony and reception in the stadium the day after Christmas and let people in on a first-come-first-serve basis.
He added that coronavirus safety measures would be in place.
He also tweeted that he has hired security from a local bodybuilding club:
Answering criticism that he could delay the nuptials he said: "I'm not going to wait until corona disappears - my bride might run away!"
A cardiology nurse returned to Zambia to start a business in vegetable farming.
The meeting came after Zambia defaulted on debt repayment last month.
The IMF said that the "Zambian authorities have formally requested a financing arrangement... to support their reform efforts. The Fund is currently assessing this request."
- Copyright: Zambia State House
The office of the Zambian President Edgar Lungu has released this photo showing Mr Lungu (centre) meeting the Africa head of the International Monetary Fund, Abebe Aemro Selassie (second from right).
Mr Lungu did not release any statement but the meeting comes after Zambia became the first African country during the coronavirus pandemic to default on its debt repayments.
A default makes it harder for the country to borrow more funds.
In October, it missed a repayment of $40m (£30m) - the country was given a month's grace period but failed to come up with the money.
Coronavirus has aggravated pre-existing financial pressures in Zambia.
Last month, the IMF said it was in talks with the Zambian authorities about how best to support the country, but its help would depend on the country taking steps to make sure its debt was sustainable.
BBC News, Lusaka
Zambia's former 400m World Champion Samuel Matete says the country is "not doing enough to develop athletics".
Matete, who won gold at the 1991 World Championships in Japan, says it is sad that from the time he last won a medal before he retired, there has not been an athlete who has won anything at a major event.
The legend, who won 10 medals in his career – six gold and four silver – is contesting to become president of the Zambia Athletics Association and runs an athletics academy in his name.
"We are talking about the global level. We are not talking about where you go to South Africa and compete with three countries and win a medal. No. Those are developmental medals," he said.
"Ever since I left the podium, we have only seen one medal which is through Sydney [Siame] at the Africa Championships. So we are not doing enough. We have not done anything about athletics that we can talk about."
An AI-backed mobile app is helping farmers in rural areas gain critical information for their crops.
BBC Africa's Jameisha Prescod looks at how Zambia's financial issues have been made worse during the pandemic.
BBC World Service
Zambia is on the brink of defaulting on its foreign debt after it missed a payment of more than $40m (£30.5m) last month.
A so-called grace period will expire on Friday, making it Africa's first country to default on its sovereign debt since the coronavirus pandemic.
Zambia was already struggling to service its $12bn external debt load.
The pandemic has aggravated pre-existing financial pressures, putting an additional burden on health services and depressing economic activity.
The country has asked for a delay to interest payments until April next year but creditors have not yet agreed.