Zambian president to meet IMF, World Bank in Washington By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S. on September 21, 2021. Spencer Platt/Pool via REUTERS

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s president is due to meet the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, his spokesman said on Wednesday, as the southern African nation tries to secure a lending programme to help it emerge from a debt crisis.

The statement, issued from New York by President Hakainde Hichilema’s spokesman Anthony Bwalya, did not say when the meetings would take place.

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 this debt is held by either China or Chinese entities via deals shrouded in secrecy clauses, making negotiations for IMF relief tough.

Hichilema is in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly. He won a landslide election victory in August, beating incumbent Edgar Lungu, and has pledged to reduce the fiscal deficit, restore economic growth and review mining policies in Africa’s second-largest producer.

His finance minister said last month securing an IMF programme was critical to restoring creditor confidence and giving the government access to cheaper and longer financing.

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