FILE PHOTO: Zambian President Edgar Lungu speaks at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York

INTERNATIONAL – Zambia has cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to around 2 percent from an initial projection of 4 percent, President Edgar Lungu said on Friday.

Lungu said in a state of the nation address in parliament that adverse weather conditions will negatively affect growth this year.

“It is being revised downwards to about 2 percent on account of adverse weather conditions which have affected the energy and agricultural sectors,” Lungu said.

Lungu said Africa’s second-largest copper producer would strive to dismantle domestic arrears and maintain debt within sustainable levels.

Zambia’s external debt rose to $10.05 billion at the end of 2018, compared with $8.74 billion a year earlier, raising fears that the southern African country is headed for a debt crisis.

This forecast comes after the country's central bank said that it opposed government moves to remove lawmakers' oversight over acquiring more public debt.

The government proposed constitutional changes in August to remove lawmakers' right to approve new government loans and the ratification of international treaties - triggering an outcry from rights and opposition groups.