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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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Progress as Kenya’s January 2023 inflation rate slows to 9.0%

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The Kenyan statistics office has revealed that the country’s inflation rate slowed to 9.0% year-on-year in January from 9.1% a month earlier.

The latest inflation figure makes it the third straight month that inflation has fallen in the East African country. The figure hit 9.6% in October, its highest level since May 2017. January’s inflation is still above the government’s preferred band of 2.5%-7.5%.

The statement by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that on a monthly basis, inflation was 0.2% compared with 0.5% in December.

Inflation inched down to 9.1% in December, the second straight month of decrease, but still above the government’s preferred band of 2.5-7.5%.

Kenya’s central bank on Monday announced a new monetary policy holding its benchmark lending rate steady at 8.75%.

According to African Development Bank, Kenyan economic growth is projected to decelerate to 5.9% in 2022 and 5.7% in 2023, driven on the demand side by a decline in domestic and external demand caused by lower income and by an increase in food and fuel import costs and on the supply side by tepid economic activity across sectors due to cost-push factors.

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Nigeria’s legislature approves extra $2.2 bln central bank loans to government

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Nigeria’s debt crisis isn’t going away anytime soon as the country’s lower house of parliament has approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow an extra $2.2 billion.

According to the lawmakers, the approval is in temporary advance from the country’s central bank.

Nigeria’s minister of Finance in December made the revelation that the country will henceforth focus on concessionary loans from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, and others for external loans, Ahmed told Reuters in Abuja after a cabinet meeting.

The legislators plan to discuss with officials in order to turn central bank loans to the government worth 23.7 trillion naira ($52 billion) into long-term debt.

President Buhari asked parliament in December for approval to convert central bank’s temporary advance to government into 40-year bonds at 9% interest to cut interest payments but lawmakers questioned the plan.

Government debt in Nigeria averaged 73641.06 USD Million from 2012 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 103312.80 USD Million in the second quarter of 2022 and a record low of 48361.37 USD Million in the first quarter of 2013.

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