Zambia owes nearly $27 billion in foreign and local public debt

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Zambia’s total public debt to foreign and local lenders was just shy of 27 billion U.S. dollars at the end of June, the Finance Ministry revealed on Wednesday.

The figure was equal to about 115% of GDP, according to the latest World Bank figures from 2019, and could be more because Zambia’s economy contracted sharply last year.

The figures published by the ministry on its website include 16.86 billion U.S. dollars in foreign holdings, of which 520 million is interest arrears. Zambia became Africa’s first COVID-19 pandemic-era sovereign default at the end of last year.

The remaining 10.1 billion was local currency debt, the figures showed.

President Hakainde Hichilema won a landslide election victory in August, beating incumbent Edgar Lungu, in part on a promise to clean up corruption and untangle its debt woes.

His Cabinet has since sought to bring debts accumulated under the former administration to light so that the southern African country can get IMF emergency relief.

“In line with its commitment for greater transparency, the Ministry of National Planning and Finance of Zambia has published a detailed summary of debt figures as of end-June 2021,” a statement from the ministry said.

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