Zambia’s foreign and local public debt nears $27 billion

21 Oct 2021

Zambia’s total public debt to foreign and local lenders was just under $27 billion at the end of June, according to the Finance Ministry on Wednesday.

According to the latest World Bank figures from 2019, this equates to around 115% of GDP, yet may be more following the economy’s steep contraction last year.

The figures announced by the ministry include $16.86 billion in foreign holdings, of which $520 million is interest arrears, Reuters reports. At the end of 2020, Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default. 

The remaining $10.1 billion was local currency debt, according to the figures on the ministry’s website.

In August, President Hakainde Hichilema won the election, beating incumbent Edgar Lungu, promising to eradicate corruption and resolve the country’s debt problems.

Since then, the government has attempted to unveil the debts amassed under the former administration, to enable Zambia to obtain IMF emergency relief.

“In line with its commitment for greater transparency, the Ministry of National Planning and Finance of Zambia has published a detailed summary of debt figures as of end-June 2021,” according to a statement from the ministry.

In regard to Zambia’s foreign debt, $6 billion is owed to China with the remainder owed to numerous banks, nations and multilateral institutions, the Reuters report goes on to add.