Zambia’s new finance minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, said talks with the International Monetary Fund in Washington on Thursday were “very progressive” as the southern African nation sought funding needed to escape from a debt crisis.
In a statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page, the minister said the key issues discussed were the time lines and immediate steps that both sides needed to take to advance the process for a highly anticipated Extended Credit Facility programme.
In November, Zambia became the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to keep up with payments on nearly $13 billion of international debt.
About a quarter of the debt is held by either China or Chinese entities via deals shrouded in secrecy clauses, complicating negotiations for IMF relief.
In his first address to parliament earlier in September, newly installed President Hakainde Hichilema committed his government to reducing the fiscal deficit and restoring economic growth in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.
Musokotwane, accompanied by Zambia’s central bank governor, met with senior IMF officials to apprise them of government plans to stabilise the stressed economy and improve the quality of life in the impoverished nation.
“Dr Musokotwane described the talks with the IMF as very progressive,” the ministry statement said.