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Lusaka’s Economy Story Shows a Sad Tale

A decade ago, as the rich world was struggling with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, much of Africa was surfing a wave of optimism. At the front was Zambia, which in the early 1990s was among the first African countries to ditch one-party rule and socialism. In 2012, after a decade of stunning economic growth, it joined the small club of African countries borrowing on international bond markets. Demand for its debt was so strong that it was able to borrow more cheaply than Spain. Now Zambia finds itself at the front of another, less admirable pack. On November 13th it was poised to become the first African country to default since the IMF’s “heavily indebted poor countries” scheme in 2005 wiped clean the debts of 30 of the continent’s poorest countries.