President Peter Mutharika Friday unveiled investment opportunities of Malawi to business captains at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, US at a luncheon organized by the Corporate Council on Africa.
The Corporate Council on Africa, established in1993, is at the forefront of strengthening and facilitating the commercial relationship between the United States and the African continent.
“After I came here in August from the meeting of the African leaders conference which President Obama had organized in the US, I asked my ministers and their secretaries to compile for each ministry what you call department here a list of bankable projects in their ministries that will give us a compendium of all investment opportunities in Malawi which the ministries have done,” said President Mutharika.
He said in that compendium some of notable initiatives include the Green Belt Initiative, the Malawi Nsanje Inland Port, Power Supply, Mining, and Tourism and Industry.
“Green belt is a concept. As you know in Africa today, rainfall is very unpredictable. Either there is too much rain sometimes or there is no rain at all. When there is too much rain all the crops are flooded and there is no harvest and when there is no rain of course you have nothing to grow. So we have been depending on rain-fed agriculture, we have moved from that to irrigation so that’s the so called green belt.
President Mutharika told the business captains that under this concept Malawi will irrigate over 1,000,000 hectares of land to grow all sorts of crops.
“We are trying to move away from tobacco. Tobacco forms over 80 percent of our exports. We are trying to move away from tobacco to legumes like cow peas, pigeon peas and so forth. Those crops have a tremendous market not only in Western Europe but also in India, China and Japan. So there is tremendous opportunity for investment in agro-business in Malawi. And that’s one area I would like to invite you to invest in the green belt area,” he said.
The Malawi leader further said another area requiring investment is the Nsanje Inland Port noting that currently the closest port is about 800 or 1000 miles away.
“It’s extremely expensive, 60 percent of the cost of our imported goods in Malawi is due to transport. So we are trying to change that by creating an Inland Port.
“My brother[Bingu wa Mutharika] and I before he died we went to Humburg to see how they did their inland port. But when completed Nsanje port will go from Nsanje through Shire River, Zambezi, then to the Indian Ocean, a distance of about 128 kilometres its about 80 miles. And when that is done the cost of goods in Malawi will drop by 60 percent.
“That is now another possible area of investment. This port has the support of all the African countries. The World Bank, the African Union. In fact when completed at USD500billion, it will probably be the largest single project in Africa from Aswan dam in 1959 in Egypt. It will cater for Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Burundi, Ruanda and even Tanzania. So there is room for investment there a number of opportunities for investments in all sorts of areas like for example rail roads, food, water, transportation, hotels and an Airport,” explained Mutharika.
Mutharika said another area of great interest some of the investors might wish to venture into is power which at the moment has a deficit of about 300 megawatts.
“We need about 700 megawatts but at the moment we only have about 347. We are trying to fill the deficit and also bringing in power investors to increase our capacity to at least 4000. We are trying to move away from hydro because 100 percent of our power depends on Shire river and that river’s flow of water depends on the rains.
“In summer when the rains are not there, the level of water goes down and therefore the capacity is reduced by 47 percent. In addition to hydro we also want coal, biomass, wind and solar. All these are areas of possible investment and that’s a big area.
“For your information in the Power Africa Marginal, there is 32billion dollars set aside where investors from here can tap into to invest in power in Africa. So I would like to encourage you as energy is a very important area,” Mutharika said.
Mutharika then talked about mining as another possible area of investment. He said Malawi has a lot of minerals although the country at the moment depends on agriculture.
“We have deposits of coal, niobium, langstone, heavy mineral sands, uranium, rare earth, sicker sands and pink granite among many others. In fact, the deposits of sand and rare earth are the most common. We are now exploring oil and gas in lake Malawi.
“There is good evidence that we have huge deposits of oil and gas under Lake Malawi. We are trying, conscessions have been given for exploration but we have to be very careful as you know Lake Malawi is the third largest as a fresh water lake in the world and eighth largest in the world as well. We will try to protect it as we develop our mining industry,” Mutharika further explained.
The president said to show commitment to foreign investment Malawi has established steady administrative structures to make sure they facilitate foreign investment.
Said Mutharika; “One of the innovations we have now is the one-stop initiative. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is the line Ministry for investments but the operational arm is what we call the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre. That’s a new entity to actually manage investment and it’s in one place now one building. Before, you had to go to ten different places to invest but now it’s in only one building. Before that it used to take 96 days from the time you apply your certificate to the time you get your licence. Now it takes five days but we would like to reduce that.”
He said government will increase the capacity of the Malawi Investment and Trade centre to make it effective and hopes that the power sector that used to perform poorly will be boosted.
“Fortunately the Unite States government has given us under the Millennium Challenge Cooperation, USD350million grant in the power sector for transmission but also for generation and distribution. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the American government for this assistance.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :