Zambia’s New Finance Minister Targets IMF Loan Within Months

Zambia’s new finance minister plans to more than double the southern African nation’s copper output in five years and strike a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund by October, Bloomberg News reported. Situmbeko Musokotwane, who President Hakainde Hichilema appointed to the job on Friday, said an economic program with the Washington-based lender will be key to restoring the nation’s credibility and help convince external creditors to extend payment terms. Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter in November when it stopped servicing its $3 billion in Eurobonds along with almost all its external debt. A well-respected economist, Musokotwane previously served as finance minister from 2008 to 2011 and oversaw the implementation of Zambia’s last economic program with the IMF that was concluded shortly before he was appointed to the post. He now faces the task of reviving an economy that shrank 3% last year, is buckling under nearly $13 billion in foreign loans and has soaring inflation. “It is important that we get an IMF program so that we do the necessary reform, convince the creditors that we are serious and will be able to pay back,” he told reporters in Lusaka, the capital. “September, October, we should conclude the issue of the program.” Read more.