The Road to Zambia’s 2020 Sovereign Default

Published on: 17/03/23

By: Martin Kessler, 



On 13th November 2020, Zambia became the first African country in the Covid-19 era to default on its Eurobond debt, after the Government missed a coupon payment of US$42.5 million on its 2024 Eurobond. The Government has remained in default ever since and sought external assistance to bring the debt levels to sustainable levels. Consequently, in 2020, the Government applied for the G20/Paris-Club Common Framework for Debt Treatment Beyond the DSSI. This note discusses Zambia’s macroeconomic and fiscal landscape leading up to the debt distress, to better understand the conditions that gave rise to the 2020 sovereign default. This note also recounts the 20 years leading to this economically treacherous and costly process.

In this short paper, the Zambian think-tank ZIPAR (Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research) presents the main findings of a forthcoming report.