AfDB president optimistic about solving Zimbabwe’s debt crisis

HARARE — African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said on Tuesday he was optimisitic about talks with Zimbabwe to solve its debt crisis.

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina gestures as he addresses a news conference on the first day of the annual meeting of AfDB in Gandhinagar, India, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Zimbabwe has accumulated billions of dollars of debt and has not received funding from global financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for years.

“You cannot run up a hill with a bag of sand on your back,” Adesina said, referring to the southern African country’s external debts which he put at $13.5 billion.

“I am optimistic that working together we will be able to get there. We are committed to support Zimbabwe with $4.2 million … (for) arrears clearance,” he said at a media briefing with Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.

In March, the IMF noted that Zimbabwe had come up with a debt resolution strategy and started token payments to creditors in an attempt to re-engage. But it said stakeholders also wanted to see political and economic reforms.

Zimbabwe’s overseas creditors include the World Bank, AfDB, European Investment Bank and other multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“We have to continue with the reforms we have started and make sure they are completed so that we can continue to stabilize the (economy),” Ncube said.

Zimbabwe recorded annual inflation of around 192% in June, piling added strain on people struggling with shortages of basic items in the shops.

Soaring inflation has evoked memories of economic chaos under former leader Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule. (Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; Writing by Bhargav Acharya and Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Alexander Winning and Nick Macfie)

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