Chakwera Promises to Improve Business Environment
Blantyre: President Lazarus Chakwera has reaffirmed his administration's commitment to creating an enabling environment for business and trade through various investments in the energy and transportation sectors.
He made the pledge on Thursday at the Chichiri Trade Fair grounds after officially opening the 32nd Malawi International Trade Fair, stating that plans were already in the works to connect all oil strategic reserves to the port of Nacala via a railway line, reducing the cost of bringing the commodity into the country.
Chakwera stated that the construction of a rail line connecting Matindi Port to another line connecting to Nacala is nearing completion, while rehabilitation of the line between Balaka and Mchinji is currently underway.
He said: “Once these are completed, we will start bringing in fuel through rail, which will reduce the cost of importing fuel into the country. I know that this has angered those who operate trucks for importing fuel and some have even resorted to sponsoring anti-government demonstrations despite our efforts to appeal to their love of the country.
“But importing strategic commodities by rail is what’s best for the country because it benefits all Malawians, not just a few. So, we are staying the course,” the President pointed out.”
He assured Malawians that his administration was taking the issue of power supply seriously and would use all available resources to address it.
Chakwera said: “This does not just include the construction of new power plants and rehabilitation of old ones, but improving the governance of utility service providers and encouraging independent power producers to invest in the energy sector.
“With the US$60 million my administration has secured from the World Bank for the rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydro Dam, which was damaged by Tropical Storm Ana earlier this year, we expect that the long blackouts currently being experienced will be resolved by Christmas.
“Once that happens, we will get back on track with our goal to raise our power generation capacity to 1000MW by 2025, and that will make a big difference in the productivity of our industries and their capacity to trade within and across our borders.”
Lekani Katandula, President of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), has called for an end to the culture of bureaucracies in public institutions that operate in the energy sector so that the private sector can participate fully and unhindered in electricity generation.
“The lip-service, we have so far paid to value addition is not only due to low levels of productivity in agriculture but because the most critical catalyst for industrialization, energy has been in short supply for a long time.
“We are aware that efforts are being made to transform the sector. All we can do is to rally behind the efforts you are already making and request that bureaucracies in public institutions that operate in the energy space be eliminated to allow us, as the private sector, to participate fully and unhindered in generating electricity,” he said.
According to Katandula, with adequate energy, manufacturing, which has the greatest potential to catapult this country into economic success, can experience a boom due to its massive multiplier effects.
“This will enable us to export products with high added value content and generate the much-needed foreign exchange while substituting some, if not most, of the imports into this country with locally produced products.
“Your Excellency, although this may sound like a far-fetched dream today, it is possible. Nzotheka and it is fully aligned to our vision as reflected in Malawi 2063,” he added.
According to Katandula, there are 198 exhibitors occupying 247 pavilions, 182 of which are local and 16 of which are foreign, with one exhibitor from Mozambique, 14 SMEs from Zimbabwe, and the Indian High Commission.
(By Yamikani Yapuwa, MANA)