US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, on a tour of Africa designed to promote US relations and investment, said Monday it was crucial to immediately address Zambia’s voluminous debt to China.
Yellen was in Lusaka, a capital city evidently dominated by Chinese funding. Visitors arriving at the renovated Kenneth Kaunda International Airport see a facility expanded in 2015 with Chinese funds. Traveling into the city, they see billboards and start-ups with signs in Chinese, evidence of Chinese influence and competition with the United States.
But Zambia’s economic growth came with a heavy debt burden. Zambia was the first African country to default on debt during the pandemic, failing to pay $42.5 million in bonds in November 2020. Negotiations on how to deal with the debt are ongoing.
Experts say a prolonged debt crisis could prevent countries like Zambia from recovering economically, plunging them further into poverty and unemployment and cutting off their access to credit for future reconstruction.
“It is critically important to address the issue immediately,” Yellen told reporters at a news conference Monday at Zambia’s National Institute of Health.
The manner, and speed, in which Zambia renegotiates its debt with China could affect China’s strategy toward other nations that are also heavily indebted.
#Yellen #crucial #address #Zambias #debt #issue #China