Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rejoice Shumba, says the technical team which arrived in the country mid this week, visited the planned venue for the event - Bingu International Conference Center in Lilongwe and some hotels in the city, among other activities.
“I can confirm that we have a SADC technical team which is in the country to engage with a national team in preparations for the summit. They are here to inspect how prepared Malawi is to host the summit.”
“Areas of their focus include on the venue, assessing our hotels and they are with suppliers of interpretation equipment,” said Shumba.
According to Shumba, the summit shall have a virtual component to enable the participation of some delegates from outside Malawi, as a measure of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The (SADC) Council approved that the summit be held in a hybrid format. This is why we have the technical team from SADC because to have such a format there is a need to put in place powerful Information and Communications Technology equipment.”
She said so far, the country’s preparations for the summit are at an advanced level as a national organizing committee for the event is coming up with its budget.
“Malawi is indeed prepared and is working towards holding this 41st SADC summit. Government formed various subcommittees to come up with specific budgets. These subcommittees have finalized their budgets for ministerial approval,” she said.
Meanwhile, a number of activities in preparation for the summit have been lined up in the country.
They include a media sensitization campaign to be conducted through the Ministry of Information, a public lecture, and pieces of training for reporters as well as media managers on media coverage for the summit.
Said Shumba, “You know that the media plays a big role when it comes to issues of summits and we want to prepare our media so that they should know what is coming up. We want our media to own this summit.”
She added that government will conduct the media training in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat and GIZ.
On the participation of the business community during the summit, which shall have ministerial conferences as well as a meeting of heads of states, Shumba said Small and Medium Enterprises have been engaged.
“When President Lazarus Chakwera was coming from the Extraordinary SADC Summit held in Mozambique, he indicated that it is important that government should engage the Small and Medium Enterprises to showcase their businesses at the summit, we are putting this into action”, said Sumba.
But commenting on the preparations, Economic Commentator, Milward Tobias, said Malawians should not expect much from the summit as far as economic growth is concerned, as there are no unique goods or services that can attract the attention of the expected visitors.
“These summits are routine and they rotate from one country to another, we may have some money in foreign exchange but it will not be substantial. We have not built facilities that can influence someone to pay us much”, said Tobias.
However, Social Commentator Rafiq Hajat, says Malawi stands to benefit in areas such as security and governance, apart from strengthening its bilateral relations with other member states.
“We belong to SADC, COMESA, and African Union, it is all about integration with a larger region. With the emerging situation in Mozambique, there is a possible infiltration into our borders, so the cooperation and support from SADC countries is essential”, said Hajat.
During the summit, President Lazarus Chakwera shall take over the rotational Chairmanship of the regional body.