IMF director Kristalina Georgieva answered questions from attendees at a town hall meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 24) at the University of Zambia about the work her organization does with the nation.

Zambia agreed to a $1.3 billion bailout loan from the IMF in 2021, though some have criticized the conditions as being too stringent.

Georgieva disagreed, claiming that the Washington-based lender wanted to see Zambia achieve both growth and a resolution to its debt problems.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said, “I don’t wake up worrying that the IMF is a villain going to countries to take away their sovereignty because this is your IMF and we belong to you.

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Following discussions with Zambia’s creditors, Georgieva stated on Tuesday that she was “confident” an agreement to restructure the country’s debt was within reach.

Despite reaching an agreement for a $1.3 billion bailout loan from the IMF in 2021, negotiations with Lusaka’s lenders have dragged on.

Some people criticized the IMF’s requirements as being detrimental to the nation.

A sizable portion of Zambia’s $17 billion external debt is owed to private lenders, including bondholders, as well as China.

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Following a refusal by mostly western lenders to halt interest payments, Zambia became the first African nation since the Covid-19 pandemic to default on its foreign debt in 2020.