In a recent conversation, Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, has asked China’s president, Xi Jinping, for debt relief and cancellation.
The matter of their conversation was revealed in a statement issued by the president’s spokesman Isaac Chipampe. “President Lungu called for debt relief and cancellation in light of reduced revenue due to the negative impact of the pandemic, as well as competing needs for the country, to secure adequate resources to fight the pandemic and to stimulate the economy,” the statement read. Beijing is yet to declare a commitment to the request.
Even though it is still unclear how much Zambia owes to China in concessional loans, The East African reports that “Zambia is among the countries on the continent heavily indebted to China. Of the more than $10 billion external debt, Lusaka reportedly owes China some $6.4 billion mostly in infrastructure development financed by Chinese lenders”.
As COVID-19 keeps ravaging the global economy, African countries will need Beijing, Africa’s biggest bilateral lender to cancel or restructure the about $145 billion owed to it by the continent. Zambia has also “requested IMF support for their economic program to restore macroeconomic stability,” Inner City Press reported.
Earlier attempts by Kenya’s government to secure a debt relief deal with Beijing were unsuccessful due to China’s G20 membership status.