Zambia moved closer to becoming the first African nation to default on its dollar bonds since the onset of the coronavirus, making it a test case for nations worldwide battling to meet obligations to a range of lenders from bondholders to Chinese state banks.
Zambia is shelving projects that are not almost complete and will renegotiate loans, as it seeks to contain ballooning debt and entice the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to restart talks on a support package.
Zambia is suffering a severe hangover from its decade long commodity boom, as mounting debt and energy shortages are crippling the once vibrant economy. Zambia has seen a decrease in GDP growth from an average of 7.4% from 2004-2014 to barely 3% for 2016. This figure is only slightly above population growth. When annual inflation is added – which despite having decreased from 22.9% in January to only 8.8% in November – it reveals that the livelihoods of Zambians are actually regressing. This slowdown has affected the government’s bottom line, as Zambia’s national debt continues to pile up.
Zambia has been battling the problem of maize smuggling to neighboring countries following a high demand for the commodity. Zambia is among the few countries with surplus maize following poor rains experienced in the 2015/2016 season in southern Africa.
Air Botswana has indefinitely ceased operating flights between Gaborone and Lusaka, as well as Harare. Air Botswana public relations officer Thabiso Leshoai said the Gaborone-Lusaka flights were terminated on November 13 and Gaborone-Harare flights on November 12. The decision comes as part of a route rationalisation exercise to reduce operational costs on non-profitable routes. The airline will also reduce frequencies on the Gaborone-Kasane route, suspending the Monday flight. This leaves six weekly frequencies.