Africa

The Zambian government’s lack of engagement has made providing near-term debt relief impossible, a large Eurobond creditor group said, adding it may consider other options with the country looking on track for an acrimonious debt restructuring, Reuters reported. Zambia has become Africa’s first sovereign pandemic-era default after it failed to pay a $42.5 million coupon at the expiry of the grace period on Friday.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a law to create a credit tribunal that will improve loan recovery and strengthen the regulatory framework for managing failing or distressed lenders, the presidency said on Friday, Reuters reported. The aim of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020 is to update existing laws and it comes in response to developments in the financial sector over the past 20 years, spokesman Garba Shehu said.

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The United States, China and other G20 countries on Friday agreed for the first time on a common approach for restructuring government debt as the coronavirus crisis leaves some poorer nations at risk of default, Reuters reported. The agreement came as Zambia said it would not pay an overdue Eurobond coupon by Friday’s deadline, putting it on track to become Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default.

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The International Monetary Fund on Friday said it was in talks with Zambian authorities about how best to support the country as it heads toward Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default, Reuters reported. Any IMF financial support for Zambia would be contingent on steps to restore debt sustainability, an IMF spokeswoman said, underscoring the importance of every stakeholder making an effort to help countries in distress.

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Zambia faces a crucial vote that could see it become the first African country to default on sovereign debt payments since the outbreak of the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic almost eight months ago, Bloomberg News reported. Holders of its $3 billion in Eurobonds attending meetings at a law company in London on Friday are expected to reject a government request for a payment holiday after the government last month missed an interest payment on $1 billion of bonds due 2024.

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Investors in Ethiopia’s Eurobonds are losing out on the rally in emerging-market debt. The country’s 2024 dollar securities dropped for a fourth day on Monday as conflict in the northern Tigray region continued, Bloomberg News reported. Clashes between government soldiers and fighters loyal to the region’s ruling party stoked fears of a broader civil war at a time when the government is struggling to end ethnic violence shaking Africa’s second-most populous country.

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Zambia is doing everything possible to avoid a sovereign debt default later this week, including sharing information on its Chinese debt with holders of its dollar-denominated bonds, its finance minister told Reuters on Monday, Reuters reported. Sources close to the main committee of bondholders, however, said little progress had been made in debt talks. Even before the coronavirus pandemic caused a global economic slowdown, Zambia was struggling with mounting debt due to low prices for copper, its main export.

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Money owed to aircraft lessors and some creditors of South African Airways is not covered by a 10.5 billion rand ($665 million) government bailout, SAA’s administrators said, Reuters reported. South Africa’s government allocated the latest cash injection for SAA in last month’s mid-term budget, but says it will not put further money into the airline. SAA’s administrators told Reuters on Thursday that 1.7 billion rand owed to lessors and 600 million rand which it owes to creditors from before the airline went into administration nearly a year ago would not be covered.

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Kenya is holding talks with the International Monetary Fund on a new lending facility as the East African nation faces huge budget deficits worsened by the coronavirus crisis. The government has abandoned expensive commercial debt to cut back on ballooning repayments at a time when its revenue collection has been squeezed by the pandemic, Reuters reported. Tobias Rasmussen, the IMF’s resident representative in Nairobi, told Reuters on Tuesday that the new facility was being discussed following a Kenyan request that preceded the pandemic.

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