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Musings From Abroad

China, Zambia’s major creditor, cooperating on debt rework— Official



A spokesperson of Zambia’s foreign ministry has stated that one of its major creditors, China, has remained supportive of Zambia’s debt restructuring.

The diplomat did not, however, disclose whether China approved of a planned agreement the country in southern Africa made with foreign bondholders.

On Monday, Zambia and the bondholder group announced that they had come to a fresh understanding to restructure $3 billion in foreign notes. The proposal was given the go-ahead by Zambia’s formal creditors, the largest of which is China.

On Monday, Zambia announced that it has reached a deal with a group of private creditors on the restructuring of $3 billion of its foreign notes, which is a noteworthy achievement that brings the country closer to ending its lengthy debt restructuring.

Being the first nation in Africa to miss payments on its foreign debt during the Covid-19 outbreak, they have expressed a strong desire for the debt to be restructured. Unfortunately, the protracted delays in the process have strained the local financial systems, impeded desperately needed investments, and delayed economic progress.

Zambia defaulted more than three years ago and its debt rework process has hit many obstacles, including in November when the official creditors rejected a previous bond deal because it did not offer comparable debt relief to theirs.

“China, as co-chair of the Zambian Debt Committee, has made concerted efforts with all parties concerned to promote significant progress in the disposal of Zambia’s debt,” Lin Jian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a regular press conference.

“China will also continue to coordinate and cooperate with all parties concerned to steadily advance the work related to Zambia’s debt disposal,” he said when asked for China’s response to the latest bondholder deal.

Musings From Abroad

55 million people facing severe hunger in West and Central Africa— UN



A food crisis has been made worse by rising prices in West and Central Africa. In the next few months, nearly 55 million people will have trouble feeding themselves, according to a warning from the United Nations relief groups on Friday.

The groups said that the number of people going hungry during the June–August lean season had quadrupled in the last five years. They further claimed that economic problems like double-digit inflation and stagnant local production were major causes of the crisis, along with ongoing battles in the region.

A joint statement from the World Food Program, UNICEF, and the Food and Agriculture Organization said that Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali are among the countries most severely affected. In the north of these countries, about 2,600 people are expected to die of extreme hunger.

“The time to act is now. We need all partners to step up … to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s acting regional director for West Africa.

Malnutrition is very high because of a lack of food, according to the agencies. They say that 16.7 million children under five years old are severely malnourished across West and Central Africa.

Food supplies have made things harder, especially for countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone which are already dealing with high inflation.

“To respond to the unprecedented food and nutrition insecurity,” said Robert Guei, the FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, policies should be put in place to increase and diversify local food production.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia begins diesel exports to Sudan as EU boycott bites



London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data shows that Russia has started sending fuel to troubled North African country, Sudan.

The sales begin amid new demand for Russia’s refined goods following a trade boycott against it by the EU over the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Since February 2023 when the EU put a full ban on importing Russian oil products, diesel has been sent to Brazil, Turkey, and countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It has also been loaded from ship to ship.

Data from LSEG shows that two fuel ships, the Pavo Rock and the Conga, brought about 70,000 metric tons of ultra-low sulphur diesel to Sudan after loading it in February at Primorsk in the Baltic Sea. Shipping records show that the goods were unloaded at Port Sudan Al Khair Terminal on April 2 and April 5, respectively.

The Marabella Sun, a ship that was loaded in March at the Russian Baltic port of Vysotsk, is now on its way to Port Sudan and should be unloaded on April 17.

A source quoted by Reuters claims Sudan needs about 45,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6,000 tons per day, of diesel to meet local demand. However, Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry did not answer a request for comment.

About 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons of diesel are brought into Sudan every month, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to the LSEG, about 116,000 metric tons of diesel came into Sudan in March.

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