ZAMBIA’S external debt stock lies at US $27 billion as at 2019, the World Bank has revealed.
This is far more than Zimbabwe’s external debt which stood at $12.2 billion the same year.
The Bank’s International Debt Statistics 2021 report shows that if combined with local debt and arears, the figure would swell to about $33 billion.
This is contrary to the $11.2 billion finance minister Bwalya Ng’andu revealed in February last year for the same year.
The report shows that long term external debt stood at $25.8 billion in 2019, while public and publicly guaranteed loans stood at $11.1 billion.
Last year, Zambia defaulted after missing a $42.5m interest payment on US $1bn of Eurobonds maturing in 2024.
At the time, government claimed the default was unavoidable because the country, which had received some debt relief from China Development Bank, had to treat all creditors equally and had already built-up arrears on other loans.
The non-payment had triggered cross-default provisions in all the outstanding dollar bonds.
On the other hand, the government is still struggling to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a possible bailout package, a process that has been going on since 2017.
Despite IMF demands for full details on the country’s debt situation, the government has been very secretive, especially on Chinese loans.