Malawi Pres Banda heading to Equatorial Guinea: To attend Africa—South America summit

President Joyce Banda is to leave for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Thursday to attend the Africa—South America Summit  on 21st and 22nd February, 2013.

The Malawi leader leaves the country when  civil servants are on strike demanding a 67 percent pay hike.  Finance Minister Ken Lipenga has said the  Joyce Banda’s administration doesn’t have the money to meet the demands  as that would see the wage bill jump by 200 percent from the current K92 billion (about $263m) to K276 billion (about $786m).

According to a statement issued by State House, President Banda’s trip to Equatorial Guinea has been partially sponsored by the host government.

The summit will discuss cooperation between African and South American countries in the fields of infrastructure, energy, agriculture and sustainable development.

Presidential press secretary Steve Nhlane said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that Africa has a cooperation agreement with South America as a bloc of countries where the member countries work together in such areas as science and technology, health, human development, agriculture, trade and investment.

President Banda:Will attend the Africa-South America Summit (ASA) scheduled for February 22 in Equatorial Guinea at the invitation of her counterpart, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

President Banda:Will attend the Africa-South America Summit (ASA) scheduled for February 22 in Equatorial Guinea at the invitation of her counterpart, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

“This is an important cooperation because most countries in South America face similar challenges as Malawi and other African countries. But South America has overcome these challenges and so Africa can learn from South American countries’ experience,” said Nhlane.

The Presidential spokesman explained that Malawi, as a developing country facing major challenges to uplift the lives of its people, will benefit from the cooperation with South American countries though the participation of President Banda at the Summit.

Commenting on the summit, Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Patrick Kabambe said: “Malawi stands to benefit through cooperation with countries that have faced similar challenges as ours, overcome them and become prosperous.

“Malawi can take advantage of this cooperation to initiate programmes that are linked to its Economic Recovery Plan.”

President Banda will also hold bilateral meetings with her Guinean counterpart to discuss possible areas of cooperation with that country, according to Nhlane.

She is also expected to hold other bilateral meetings with South American leaders that will be attending the summit.

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