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Zambia’s New President Pledges to Uncover Country’s True Debt Burden

  • Economy in ‘bigger hole’ than envisaged, new president says
  • Zambia is Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema 

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema 

Photographer: Salim Dawood/AFP via Getty Images 

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Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s government is trying to uncover the full extent of its obligations as it prepares to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and begin talks to revamp the African nation’s debt. 

Hichilema’s landslide victory in the election last month placed him in control of an economy with a “bigger hole” than he envisaged, having last year become Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter. Years of government budget blowouts fueled by over-borrowing left the state with at least $12.7 billion in external debt, according to the most recent official figure.