Zambia’s Chinese Debt in the Pandemic Era
Deborah Brautigam and Yinxuan Wang
CARI Working Paper & Policy Brief, septembre 2021
Zambia's debt difficulties hit headlines in November 2020 when the country defaulted on its Eurobond payments. In August 2021 a new president, Hakainde Hichilema, took office, facing a debt burden that had never been fully transparent to Zambia’s public and the world. CARI is releasing today two papers aiming to shed light on Zambia's Chinese debt dilemmas.
In Briefing Paper 5, "Zambia's Chinese Debt in the Pandemic Era," Deborah Brautigam and Yinxuan Wang use CARI data and research on loan disbursements and repayments to estimate Zambia’s outstanding external public debt to all Chinese financiers, official and commercial, at approximately US$6.6 billion, more than double that of the most commonly cited figure for Chinese debt in Zambia (US$3 billion).
In Working Paper 51, "How China and Zambia Co-Created a Debt 'Tragedy of the Commons'," Deborah Brautigam analyzes how Chinese creditors, contractors, and Zambian stakeholders failed to take steps to make Zambia's borrowing sustainable. Curious why Zambia was a clear outlier, the author explores the system for project development and loan approval in Zambia and China.