World Bank releases $100m for Zambia amid delays in debt restructuring

The World Bank is releasing $100 million for Zambia amid substantial delays in its debt restructuring efforts as its creditors drag their feet, it said on Wednesday.

The World Bank approved in October a $275 million grant to Zambia to help the southern African nation recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spillovers from the war in Ukraine and emerge from its debt crisis.

Zambia became the first African country to default in the Covid-19 era in 2020, but the restructuring of its external debts of almost $15 billion with creditors including China and Eurobond holders has been greatly delayed.

“Zambia urgently needs debt relief to restore medium-term debt sustainability and attract the new investment needed for growth and jobs,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.

“I remain deeply concerned by the slow pace of the creditors’ committee and the impact of the delays on growth and poverty,” he added.

Zambia has continued to implement agreed structural policies to achieve macroeconomic stability even as its official bilateral creditors delay discussing and finalizing debt treatment for the country under the G20’s Common Framework, the statement said.

Zambia has agreed to the principles of debt restructuring with its creditors and is focused on signing an agreement on its terms with them by the end of March, President Hakainde Hichilema said on Tuesday.

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