Zambia’s official creditors will meet for the first time on June 16 to discuss restructuring the debt of what in 2020 became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter, according to President Hakainde Hichilema.
The long-delayed meeting comes at a crucial time for the nation, which needs to receive financing assurances from its bilateral creditors in order to unlock a $1.4 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. External public liabilities grew to $17.3 billion by end-2021, with about one-third of the total owed to Chinese lenders.
Zambia reached a staff-level deal with the IMF in early December. Since then, progress has stalled under the Group of 20’s so-called Common Framework for debt treatments. President Hakainde Hichilema held a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 31, and Wu Peng, director-general of the foreign ministry’s African affairs department, is expected to visit Zambia this week.
“On June 16, all the creditors of Zambia will sit in one room — or be represented in one room — under what we call the common framework so that we can resolve the debt crisis and release resources for development. China agreed to co-chair with France and we are on the road to resolving the debt crisis.” President Hakainde Hichilema told a church congregation Sunday in the northern mining town of Chingola.
IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh will visit Zambia from June 14 to 15 to discuss with the government issues including progress made on debt restructuring, the Finance Ministry said in an emailed statement on Monday.