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IMF reaffirms commitment to Zambia

IMF chief Katalina Georgieva (left) and the President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema (right)   -  
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SALIM DAWOOD/AFP or licensors


IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva spoke on Tuesday (Jan. 24) at a townhall meeting where she took questions from people gathered at the University of Zambia about her organisation's work with the country.

In 2021, Zambia agreed a $1.3 billion bailout loan from the IMF, whose conditions have been criticized by some as too drastic.

But Georgieva pushed back, saying the Washington-based lender was interested in seeing Zambia overcome its debt challenges as well as achieving growth.

"One thing I don’t wake up to worry about is that the IMF is a villain going to countries to take away their sovereignty because this is your IMF and we belong to you", said Kristalina Georgieva , IMF's managing director.

Georgieva said on Tuesday she was "confident" an agreement to restructure Zambia's debt was within reach after engaging with the country's creditors.

Despite agreeing a $1.3bn bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2021, talks with Lusaka's lenders have dragged.

The IMF conditions were criticized by some as bad for the country. 

Zambia owes a significant amount of its $17 billion external debt to private lenders including bondholders, but also to China.

In 2020, Zambia became the first African country to default on its foreign debt since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic after mostly western lenders refused to freeze interest payments.

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