Zambia seeks debt relief

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – Zambia is stepping up efforts to deal with its US$11,2 billion debt, and has engaged creditors to structure sustainable relief plans.

China, which holds around 30 percent of Zambia’s debt stock, has indicated willingness to restructure the dues in consideration of the competing pressures brought on the Southern African country by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, Beijing’s top diplomat in Lusaka, Ambassador Li Jie, said there was scope to stagger repayments that were due on May 1 to the end of 2020.”

British High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley recently met President Edgar Lungu to discuss debt repayment/relief options.

Zambia is due to make a first bullet payment of US$750 million on its Eurobond on September 20, 2022. Then in April 2024, Zambia should to pay US$1 billion and then another US$1,25 billion obligation in 2027.

This has prompted the IMF to tell the country to realign its debt position if it hopes to secure a bailout in the region of US$1,3 billion.

However, Finance Minister Bwalya Ngandu has been quoted saying the IMF’s utterances were akin to providing “an umbrella after the rains”.

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