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Zambian default presages wider debt issues


Issue 428 - 03 Dec 2020

The Zambian government’s refusal to make a $42.5m interest payment by its 13 November deadline – thereby triggering a sovereign debt default – was hardly a surprise. The investor appetite that persuaded lenders to pile into $3bn-worth of Eurobonds has waned on President Edgar Lungu’s watch, while Covid-19 and falling commodity prices have affected sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts the region’s economy will contract by 3% in 2020 and its forecast 3.1% growth in 2021 will be “a smaller expansion than expected in much of the rest of the world”.

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