US national debt is about $31 trillion, a figure that has skyrocketed since 2000’s $5.6 trillion thanks in part to increased spending for an aging population, outlays for Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Covid-19 programs and tax cuts that trimmed revenues.

Yellen and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva arrived separately in Zambia Sunday to highlight the need for debt reform in Africa.

Zambia defaulted on its debt in 2020 and has made little progress to restructure it with Chinese and private creditors to date, a situation that has helped pushed citizens into poverty.

The world’s poorest countries faced $35 billion in debt-service payments to official and private-sector creditors in 2022, more than 40 per cent of which was due to China, the World Bank said.

The US Federal Reserve’s rate increases, designed to tame inflation at home, and the appreciating US dollar have added to African countries’ debt service burden, the African Development Bank said last week.