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Alba Iulia
Saturday, October 30, 2021

Zambia’s Chinese debt nearly twice official estimate, study finds

Headlines Zambia's Chinese debt nearly twice official estimate, study finds

Reuters reports that Zambia’s debt to Chinese public and private lenders is $6.6 billion, almost double the amount disclosed by the previous Zambian government, an analysis of loan data by the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) has estimated.

Zambia became Africa’s first coronavirus-era sovereign default last November and its ongoing debt restructuring has become a test case of Western multilateral efforts for countries to fully disclose their borrowings.

Zambia’s previous government led by Edgar Lungu said its Chinese debt stood at $3.4 billion. But the estimate published by CARI on Tuesday chimes with recent comments from newly-elected President Hakainde Hichilema, who took office last month, that the debt load is likely higher.

The country’s international creditors, which the government is in talks with, have complained that the lack of detail on Zambia’s China loans – which carry specific non-disclosure terms – has hindered the debt restructuring process.

“Given the complicated situation… reaching consensus on burden-sharing is likely to prove exceptionally difficult,” the CARI researchers who made the new estimate, Deborah Brautigam and Yinxuan Wang, wrote.

The new $6.6 billion figure is based on Chinese loan data collected by CARI at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

It is likely to continue to grow as it does not include penalties or interest arrears that continue to build up.

China is Africa’s largest creditor.

It is part of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund-supported Debt Service Suspension Initiative which has temporarily frozen debt payments to dozens of the world’s poorest countries, but it is being urged to do more in terms of disclosure.

Tuesday’s study estimated that $7.77 billion in loans to Zambia and its state-owned enterprises were disbursed by 18 major and minor Chinese banks or funds from 2000 to August 2021.

Of those, Zambia has repaid at least $1.2 billion.

Their estimate does not change Zambia’s total debt load of $14.3 billion, the researchers said, but shows that the Lungu government “was not transparent about the heavy weight of Chinese financiers among its many external creditors”.

Bwalya Ngandu, finance minister under Lungu, has said it is not true that Zambia’s debt numbers were understated.

“We have never hidden any debt,” he said in a statement earlier this month.

The researchers found six instances where Chinese lenders cancelled debt owed by Zambia, for a total of $392 million.

Reuters

32 COMMENTS

  1. not sure how it is hard to collect all the contracts, extract loan amounts, input into a spreadsheet and use the sum function. this will give us the principal amount and we can worry about the interest later

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  2. I just hope and pray this is not what HH went to tell these Ydiots called Reuters.
    I have never come across LT reporting on how much US is owing China this is simply because its non of our business.
    Okay imwee fi Reuters what is your business in this?
    Don’t even go there, this government was very well informed when it was in opposition… But all they did was to create an impression that Zambia is rich and only lacks leadership.
    Well we voted you in… Show us you leadership and not this nonsense you have been singing since day 1.

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  3. #1 True instead of mud slinging just get the documents. How can we be getting figures from a newspaper when it’s our good that has all the information?

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  4. We all knew Lungu administration debt figures were corrupted and untrue.Thank God Zambia got rid of that untrustworthy regime.

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  5. List the loans, simple request. Don’t just mention figures and expect us to believe. List them so the amount total is $6.6billion. We not Gullible!

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  6. It’s not HH saying this but Reuters news agency quoting the China-Africa Research Institute (CARI). So let PF slag it out with CARI.

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  7. The LUNGU government spent 3 years negotiating with IMF and The WorldBank including other lenders, and they FAILED to get any gigs. And part of the reason was that they were NOT being transparent especially with China LOANS. Zambia could not provide that visibility due to contractual clauses in the contracts with China. The HH GRZ has inherited this issue and trying to find ways how to overcome this condition, One way of creating confidence to those Lending organizations is a declaration of zero tolerance to corruption, rule of law, and also TRUSTWORTHY transparency provided by the government and also through independent RESEARCH e.g CARI, which has provided a glimpse into the size of the china debt. Reuters are just publicating this information, all in helping Zambia. So WHAT ARE YOU…

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  8. Cont`d
    So WHAT ARE YOU CRITICIZING? The transparency on China debts from CARI Research or Reuters for reporting? Either way, doesnt make sense. We need that transparency.

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  9. Where is the so called Dr. Who was the former finance minister. Let him explain why he was misleading the nation. As matter of fact, should be taken to court to show his facts. Lungu must be made to explain where each dollar that was borrowed went and why. I think it’s time to consider lifting Lungu’s immunity. Zambians want answers where all their tax payer money went and why they will be subject to large debt in future

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  10. Yes, Zambia owes China Billions of $Dollars. Failure of Fiscal Discipline by PF is a fact. But this is a total hogwash figure.

    “The new $6.6 Billion figure is based on Chinese Loan Data collected by CARI at John Hopkins. University. “

    China never and never discloses such criteria of data called Chinese Loan Data. That is the policy of the People’s Communist Party Policy. They are airtight or watertight. More reason China never wants to disclose the Terms & Conditions, Contract Clauses, Memorandum of Understandings because they don’t want the enemy who is USA to know.

    John Hopkins University using their CARI Centre have done the same hogwash analysis to Mexico, Ghana, Philippines & Egypt, only to be caught pants down with lies.

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  11. Butee, where are the HH is Western puppet PF [email protected] screaming about Imperialists? What you think being indebted to China is?? And China OWN public assets as collateral. Lord help us, The layers of PF destruction are too many.

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  12. Ba Kanyoli nyoli, the news papers like these Reuters, CNN and the like use the same Analysts and Firms like Lazard the firm PF hired. So it does not really matter who tells you that “ba mudala your trouser is ripped”. Reuters is owned by your Creditors.

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  13. #13 I only wish we could be a bit analytical when reaching. Thanks for your calmness. We have a habit of just accepting anything as long as it’s against our political enemy. PF supporters used to fall for anything negative against HH and so are the Upnd members. Zambians should put the interest of the country on top. If someone is hiding the true figure and nobody within the country, then there’s something wrong.

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  14. There has been a change of government. If PF under declared the loan stock then the ‘new yawn’ government should disclose the true figure. Dr Ngandu challenged them to do so a month ago. Since then there has been deafening silence. Out of the woodwork comes a speculative study and suddenly the keyboard Economists want someone locked up!!! Demand the data first people.

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  15. Where is the Finance Minister to respond to this speculative study? Patriotism is an alien word for some of our people. They accept anything that comes from abasungu.

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  16. We told you that UPND first trip to the United States was hotfoot and poorly planned.

    They started on the wrong foot. UPND administration is intuitive leader.

    $18 Million the United States gave to Zambia its not because President Hakainde Hichilema, it’s intuition Relief.

    That’s my opinion

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  17. Hold on not so fast ! Who is Reuters ? Did they append their signature on the loan documents ? What is their interest here ?

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  18. Just look at the representatives from Zambia in the background in that photo including LAZY Lungu…those were our leaders for 7 years…hungry crooks!!

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  19. Can you save us from these styopet statements? Every debt has details of the creditor. The PF is no longer in power so you can’t peddle unsubstantiated innuendos. Give us the list of your creditors and their profiles. BoZ can easily provide what’s on record, if it isn’t there then it’s a figment of your imagination.

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  20. Fuseke with that propaganda which is meant to justify kissing muzungus backsides. They will now show you what selling a country is

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  21. Compare how the Zambian beggars have big bellies and the rich creditors are slim fit.Those pot bellied Zambians in the photo sold us into debt slavery which is now probably around $20bn.

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  22. Deja Vu @ 16

    Hey, I get you and thanks.

    All our government must do is to publish the total amount of money we owe China than speculate that the amount is high. They have this information right now because the books are in their hands. Just as well PF using The BOZ Governor or The Finance Minister should have informed Zambians. PF kept avoiding the subject which created anxieties.

    For sure, Reuters is in the business of reporting. But just because Reuters says .. It has been reported by {CARI} – China Africa Research Institute, a sub-faculty of John Hopkins University does not make that amount $6.6 Billion to be true. We know that China does not publish these figures for CARI to make this bold assumption claim.

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  23. The Zambian Press should be doing original research and investigation on this matter and reporting to the Zambian people and not quoting from the foreign press. CARI ( China Africa Research Initiative) is part of Johns Hopkins University in the USA and receives funding from the US and British governments and cannot be considered unbiased considering growing hostility and confrontation between China and the West – especially the USA and UK.

  24. Zambians should just focus on the debts that we know until such a time when the minister of finance will will explain to the nation the actual figure with evidence. Initially, it was HH who said that the debts stands at $38 Billion, now its an outsider whose interest is not known. There is more to this than we think. If UPND want to borrow and put it on previous administration then they don’t mean well for our country. Transparency is important. UPND should learn to tell the truth because they are in power now. Why speculate like oppositions? I now understand winning elections came as a surprise to UPND, why still live in the past as an opposition sure, when they are suppose to provide answers.

  25. Mr President, you promised to come and fix it, now you turned into a crying president and not a fixing it president, you talked louder and clear that you were the sharpest mop to fix the malaise that Zambia was in but to what we are seeing is that you are not equal to the task.
    We are not seeing arrests of the thieves we are not seeing price reductions on essential goods ubunga remains the same petrol remains the same fertilizer remains k700 , the dollar remains high and you have gone to get more inkongole something you condemned.
    Cadres now given leeway to the bus stations and markets don’t know that you have dissapointed your followers .

  26. All money transfers in US$ cuurency are traceable through the banking system. It does not matter which country is doing the transfers, there are no secretes.

  27. Why do they give open ended statements? Its shocking even people on this forum who present themselves as knowledgable can not ask simple questions because of their dislike for PF. The $7.7 billion debt to China is from 2000 to 2021 meaning over 21 years but PF came into power in 2011. So which part of $7.7 billion was contracted by PF? If only $1.2 billion has been paid, who paid it? Is it PF or MMD before leaving power? Why does UPND want to turn citizens against the PF continuously when they should be working to deliver promises. UPND knew how they economy was and they campaigned to better the economy because HH from time to time laughed saying Lungu doesn’t know what to do. Show Lungu how to do it please.

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