Zambia’s dollar notes have lost almost 20 points over the past 2 months, with holders shedding paper that has lost its sheen thanks to external debt. File Image:IOL

JOHANNESBURG - Zambia’s dollar notes have lost almost 20 points over the past two months, with holders shedding paper that has lost its sheen thanks to rising external debt and alarm bells rung by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Zambian Observer reported on Wednesday.

This follows warnings by the IMF in late August that discussions over an aid programme were on hold because Zambia’s borrowing plans remain unsustainable. 

The country’s external debt rose to $9.37bn (R136 billion) by the end of June from $8.7bn in December.

“Talks with the IMF have been slow, the budget deficit is estimated by the IMF to be close to 8 percent of GDP for 2018 and copper, which makes up around three-quarters of Zambia’s exports, is down by around 20 percent since its peak in early June,” said Richard Briggs, emerging markets strategist at CreditSights.

“Zambia has been trying to secure an IMF loan for several years but hasn’t yet been able to secure funding.”

The country, which is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, wants a $1.3bn loan from the IMF but the chance of a deal depends on its debt management plans while its sovereign bonds are being hurt by Lusaka’s inability to find common ground with the IMF.

-   African News Agency (ANA)