Zambia’s looming debt crisis is a warning for the rest of Africa


DEBT stalks Africa once again. Over the past six years sub-Saharan governments have issued $81bn in dollar bonds to investors hungry for yield. Piled on top of this are murkier syndicated loans and bilateral debts, many to China and tied to big construction projects. Public debt has climbed above 50% of GDP in half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The risk of a crisis is growing. Consider Zambia. In 2012 this southern African country could borrow more cheaply than Spain. Now bond yields have jumped above 16%, suggesting that investors fear that it will default (see article). This fall from grace offers several lessons.

Time to tighten the copperbelt

The first relates to the “moral hazard” of debt…

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