Kamala Harris, the first woman and first person of color to be elected to the United States’ vice presidency, arrived in Lusaka on Friday after visiting Tanzania and Ghana.
She had previously visited Zambia as a child to see her maternal grandfather, who worked there. She briefly stopped in Lusaka at the house where he lived in the 1960s.
During her visit on Friday to the southern African country, the last stop on a continental tour, Kamala Harris reiterated her call for a “rapid finalization” of Zambia’s massive debt restructuring.
The United States has been lobbying creditors, including China, to reduce the country’s estimated $17.3 billion in foreign debt. Zambia defaulted in 2020 as a result of the Covid pandemic.
“We will continue to advocate for the expeditious completion of Zambia’s debt treatment and restructuring,” Kamala Harris said following a meeting with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka.
“The international community must assist countries like Zambia in regaining their footing.” As a result, I will reiterate my call to all bilateral creditors to reduce their debt significantly.
Ms. Harris’ visit follows that of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. In the face of Chinese investment, the US is attempting to assert its presence on the resource-rich continent.
The United States has accused China, many African countries’ largest creditor, of dragging its feet since Lusaka requested assistance under a G20 mechanism for restructuring the debt of the poorest states.
“As a country, our top priority is to rebuild our economy.” Debt is what is holding us back,” Hichilema explained.