Governor Talk: A New Dawn for Zambia - Charting a Path to a Better Economic Reality

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Speaker

Situmbeko Musokotwane

Minister of Finance and National Planning for Zambia 

Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane is the current Minister of Finance and National Planning for the Republic of Zambia, a position he has held since August, 2021. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from the University of Zambia, a Master of Arts in Monetary Economics from the University of Dar-Es-Salaam and a Doctorate in Monetary Economics from the University of Konstanz, Germany. In his current portfolio as Minister of Finance and National Planning, he has been at the forefront of spearheading Zambia’s economic transformation agenda. The transformation agenda has prioritised devolution of resources to local districts around the country to enable development is taken to all provinces of Zambia. The agenda has also included fiscal, institutional and legal reforms as well as efforts to stimulate economic recovery. In September, 2021, he assumed the presidency for the East and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a position he will hold until September, 2022. In November/December, 2021, he successfully led discussions for Zambia to reach a Staff Level Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Fund’s Extended Credit Facility. This Facility envisages the provision of financial support amounting to US$1.4 billion. Between 1995 and 2011, Dr. Musokotwane served in various Government institutions such as the Bank of Zambia where he held senior positions including advisor to the Bank Governor, Director for Economics, Director for Financial Markets and Deputy Governor. While at the Bank of Zambia, he facilitated the re-introduction of Treasury Bills and Government securities auctions in Zambia, along with the introduction of Open Market Operations. During discussions around the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief process, he served as Economic Advisor to the Minister of Finance. He has also held the following positions of Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet for Finance and Economic Development, Secretary to the Treasury, Economic Advisor to Zambia’s third Republican President, and Minister of Finance and National Planning for Zambia. Dr. Musokotwane was an IMF long term advisor to the Governors at the Central Bank of Swaziland between 1997 and 1999. He has also authored and co-authored published works in monetary economics throughout his career and has worked as a lecturer in the Economics Department at the University of Zambia. In addition to being the current Minister of Finance and National Planning, he serves as Member of Parliament for Liuwa Constituency, Western Province of Zambia, a portfolio he has held since September 2011. He is the Chairperson for Economy and Finance Affairs in the ruling United Party for National Development.


Moderator

Abebe Aemro Selassie

Director, African Department, IMF

 

Abebe Aemro Selassie is the Director of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a position he has held since 2016. In this capacity, Mr. Selassie oversees the IMF’s operations and engagement with 45 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, spanning the three main pillars of IMF work—policy advice, lending operations, and technical assistance. His responsibilities also include building strategic partnerships and dialogue with senior policymakers and institutions across the region.

Before taking up his current position, Mr. Selassie gained extensive experience in a wide-ranging 22-year career at the IMF. He held various senior positions, including Deputy Director in the African Department, Mission Chief for Portugal and South Africa, Division Chief of the African Department’s Regional Studies Division, and the IMF’s Senior Resident Representative in Uganda. Earlier in his career, he worked on the Fund’s lending programs with Turkey, Thailand, Romania and Estonia as well as being deeply involved in policy, operational review, and economic research work.

Before joining the IMF in 1994, he worked for the Government of Ethiopia and the Economist Intelligence Unit in London.

Mr. Selassie is an Ethiopian national. He completed his graduate studies at the London School of Economics.


Report

Key Points:

  • Focus on economic reform. The talk focused on the Zambian authorities’ ambitious economic reform agenda aimed at achieving fiscal consolidation, implementing debt restructuring, accelerating growth including through higher human capital accumulation, and the IMF’s support toward these efforts.
  • Conclusions. Achieving the authorities’ objective of creating a united, prosperous, and equitable Zambia will require urgently addressing debt sustainability challenges, creating conditions for a private sector-led growth, and reducing poverty and youth unemployment. Sustaining the fiscal consolidation efforts, fully implementing the fuel subsidy reforms, and enhancing social safety net will be essential. Support from the international community, including the IMF, will also be crucial in helping Zambia implement its transformation agenda and build resilience.

Quotes:

“The issue of debt unsustainability, stagnating economy, and youth unemployment are the three most important issues.” Situmbeko Musokotwane

“We stuck to the promise that we made to the electorate that education would be free up to secondary school.” Situmbeko Musokotwane

“I am happy that the IMF that I used to know in the 80s and 90s today is an IMF that perhaps cares more, not about what is the ceiling of spending, but also within that ceiling of spending, where are you spending the money on. It’s an IMF that cares about education, it’s an IMF that cares about health, it’s about an IMF that cares about quality of service delivery.” Situmbeko Musokotwane

“It strikes me that your reform agenda is incredibly ambitious.” Abebe Selassie

“We want to see a cooperation that is based on the private sector taking a more leading role rather than an official assistance.” Situmbeko Musokotwane

Contributor: Mentor Mehmedi


Photos