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Africa: Zambia Debt Crisis Just the Ears of the Hippopotamus in Africa’s Perilous Fiscal Position

Zambia’s debt crisis is part of a much bigger affliction facing many sub-Saharan African countries which have been sinking in sovereign debt since the financial crisis of 2008. Persistent systemic governance and economic challenges accompanied by external shocks have led to a rise in the continent’s indebtedness.

Even in the less superstitious view, Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. In the African sovereign finance world, Friday 13 November 2020 will be remembered as the day in which one of the member states, Zambia, failed to meet its debt servicing commitments of $225-million due to the country’s lenders.

It is tempting to ascribe the country’s failure to meet its debt obligations to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Zambia and many Africa watchers have seen this coming. A recent seminar held by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Brenthurst Foundation shed more light on Zambia’s path to chronic indebtedness under President Edgar Lungu.

However, focusing on the Zambia debt crisis in isolation would be remiss. It is part of a much bigger affliction facing many of the sub-Saharan African countries. African countries have been sinking in sovereign debt since the financial crisis of 2008. Zambia illustrates some of the fiscal challenges the…


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