Zimbabwe: AfDB President Jets in for Debt Indaba

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina (file photo).
23 February 2023

The second key stakeholders meeting on the debt strategy opens today with African Development Bank (AfDB) president Dr Akinumwi Adesina, the chief facilitator of Zimbabwe's arrears clearance and debt resolution process, arriving yesterday with former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, the other external facilitator, already in the country.

Dr Adesina and his team of AfDB officials arrived at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday afternoon and were welcomed by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, officials from the Treasury and other Government officials.

The second structured dialogue platform will also be attended by Mozambique's former President Joaquim Chissano, who is other high-level facilitator of the debt resolution strategy.

Speaking after his arrival in Harare, Dr Adesina said: "I come here with a lot of expectation that we will have a lot of dialogue, a lot of frankness, and a lot of openness.

"I think that we are coming here with a solutions mindset and I am very hopeful that we will get to a pathway that will give solutions for a new Zimbabwe."

Dr Adesina was delighted that President Mnangagwa had remained committed to ensuring that the dialogue platform pursued avenues for Zimbabwe debt solutions.

"This is a second meeting in terms of the dialogue we are having on Zimbabwe's arrears clearance and also debt resolution. So there is a high level of commitment and the Minister of Finance (Prof Ncube) who is doing a fantastic job and all the partners, both multilateral and bilateral, are very strongly committed to this particular process.

"I am delighted that former Mozambique President Chissano is here, who is the facilitator of that process. Of course, I am the champion for this process appointed by His Excellency President Mnangagwa," he said.

Dr Adesina accepted President Mnangagwa's request last July to chair Zimbabwe's debt clearance roadmap for the country to access new credit from international financial institutions.

Meetings have already been held with development partners and the private sector to apprise them of Zimbabwe debt situation.

Prof Ncube said the Government was grateful that Dr Adesina had arrived in the country ahead of today's meeting, which is expected to thrust Zimbabwe's economy on a sustainable growth trajectory.

"We are very pleased that Dr Adesina is here today to join in the second high-level dialogue on our arrears clearance. This process started a while ago; this is our second meeting and he is the champion, so as champion he is here to make sure that he can champion a sustainable path to clearing our arrears.

"We are going to have a great dialogue tomorrow with the partners, the creditors, so that Zimbabwe can find a sustainable solution towards arrears clearance and get our economy back on a sustainable growth path," said Prof Ncube.

On its website, the AfDB said: "Since arriving in Zimbabwe earlier this week, Mozambique's former President has been consulting with various stakeholders, including development partners, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.

"Dr Adesina has since dedicated resources to help the authorities ensure a successful process."

The debt overhang is negatively impacting Zimbabwe's access to fresh and affordable external funding as well as retarding economic growth.

In December last year, the Government established the Structured Dialogue Platform comprising all creditors and development partners and the private sector, to find working solutions to tackle the country's arrears.

Zimbabwe's total external debt as of the end of September last year stood at US$14,04 billion inclusive of the US$5,7 billion bilateral debt.

The figure is 41 percent of the total US$2,6 billion multilateral debt.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's debt, which accounts for 24 percent of the external debt, amounts to US$3,4 billion including the US$2,3 billion from blocked funds. Of the total bilateral external debt of US$5,7 billion, the Paris Club debt amounts to US$3,6 billion while US$2,2 billion is owed to Non-Paris Club creditors.

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