23 Sep 2021
The President of Zambia is scheduled to meet International Monetary Fund and World Bank officials in Washington, as the country attempts to seal a lending programme to help it out of the debt crisis.
President Hakainde Hichilema's spokesman, Anthony Bwalya announced the meetings in a statement issued from New York on Wednesday.
Zambia was the first country in Africa to default on its sovereign debt during the coronavirus crisis after failing to keep up with payments on close to $13 billion of international debt. Around 25% of this debt is held by China or Chinese entities through deals enveloped in secrecy clauses, making IMF relief negotiations more difficult.
President Hichilema is in the U.S. for the U.N. General Assembly. Last month he enjoyed a landslide election win, and has vowed to lower the fiscal deficit, bolster economic growth and revise mining policies in Zambia, the second-largest copper producer in Africa.
He said at the time: "Rebuilding our economy is top on our agenda. We will implement policies to address the fiscal deficit while ensuring that confidence is restored in the markets.
"We have indeed inherited an economy that is in dire straits and requires bold and decisive action to be taken.”
Last month Zambia’s finance minister said obtaining an IMF programme was crucial to boosting creditor confidence and allowing the government access to cheaper and longer financing, Reuters reports.
On Wednesday, Washington issued details of a meeting between President Hichilema and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, starting both parties agreed to reinforce ties on matters including health and pandemic preparation.
"The vice president applauded President Hichilema's focus on prioritising necessary reforms and his efforts to stabilise and grow the Zambian economy,” the White House said.