July 11, 2018 / 4:42 PM / 12 days ago

Zambia says debt restructuring will not disrupt Chinese projects

LUSAKA, July 11 (Reuters) - Zambia will be careful to ensure its planned debt restructuring does not disrupt Chinese-financed projects, President Edgar Lungu said on Wednesday, after China’s ambassador to the southern African nation sought clarification on the matter.

China is a leading financier of infrastructure projects in Zambia, Africa’s No.2 copper producer, including roads and hydropower generation plants.

Speaking after he met Chinese ambassador Li Jie, Lungu said there would be no disruption to financing arrangements, project implementation or contractual obligations.

Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe would in the coming days lead a Zambian delegation to China for strategic consultations on the debt restructuring progamme, Lungu said.

Zambia said in February it would rearrange loans from Chinese companies as part of a debt management plan aimed at satisfying conditions set by the International Monetary Fund to unlock a potential $1.3 billion loan.

Zambia’s debt was $9.3 billion, or roughly a third of gross domestic product, at the end of March, up from $8.7 billion at the end of 2017. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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