Towards 2022: Options for Paying back Zambia’s Eurobond Debt

On 20th September 2022, Zambia’s first Eurobond will mature. The Government will be required to settle its principal payment amounting to US$750 million in full. Twenty months later in April 2024, the Government will have to settle the second Eurobond worth US$1 billion. The third US$1.25 billion Eurobond will be paid back in three instalments in July of 2025, 2026 and 2027. With less than three years before the first Eurobond matures, there is no clear indication of how and where the money to pay back these Eurobonds is going to come from. This paper considers several options that will mitigate the possibility of a default when the principal payments on the Eurobonds are due. The lack of a payment strategy has made the bondholders jittery about whether they will get their money back. Bondholders have communicated their consternations by dumping the Zambian bonds which are perceived to be risky. With increasing yield rates on the three Eurobonds, of about 17% by end-September 2019, the market seems to have already priced in a default – only nations already in default, such as Venezuela, have yields as high as Zambia’s. The yield rate is the barometer used to assess the risk inherent in the bond. In general, higher yields mean the bond has higher risk and corresponds to a decline in the value of the bond. There have been efforts made towards establishing a Eurobond Redemption Strategy, but its contents are yet to be publicised. Also, the failure to release the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework by September 2019, and the absence of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Debt Strategy to show a clear borrowing plan have added to the market apprehension.