Malawian Vice-President Saulos Chilima is scheduled to leave the country on Saturday for Kigali, Rwanda where he will be one of the key speakers at the African Economic Conference (AEC).
The conference will be held from 3-5 December 2018 under the theme: Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s Development.
The conference, which is held annually, convenes key development actors, academics, researchers, development partners, politicians and financiers.
Office of the Vice-President (OVP) has confirmed that Chilima, who ditched the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and declared he will contest in next year’s presidential race, will speak at the conference together with host Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government, Paul Collier, will give the keynote speech at the conference which has been jointly organized by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Special assistant to the Vice-President on economic affairs Milward Tobias said the conference is “significant to Malawi” as a member of Sadc, Comesa and Free Trade Area.
Tobias said Chilima—whom President Peter Mutharika picked as running mate in January 2014 where he served as Airtel Malawi managing director— has co-financed the trip with the organisers and is not using public funds.
Among others, the conference will focus on initiatives for accelerating progress in infrastructure integration, including the removal of barriers for movement of people goods and services across borders.
Experts will share views, best practices and lessons on transforming regional institutions for more effective policy and institutional harmonization in the context of the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and other continent wide agendas including Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the global Agenda 2030.
The meeting will also examine way to reduce the cost of business and building viable value chains for agriculture, commodities and services.
Recently, State House accused Chilima of making foreign trips without the knowledge of President Mutharika, describing it as “a blatant disregard of government protocol and international diplomacy”.
In October, Chilima travelled to the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
During his trip to the UK, the Vice-President participated in private engagements, including a meeting with leadership of the Scottish Parliament and made an address at the Cambridge University Africa-Caribbean Society’s inaugural Africa Summit.
In Nigeria, Chilima attended the Africa-Israel Dialogue where he addressed the meeting on Malawi and Africa’s potential in irrigation agriculture technologies.
In Dubai, Chilima attended the Africa Investment Conference organised by the Africa Legal Network where he invited delegates to take part in the annual Malawi Investment Forum and Malawi International Trade Fair.
Since he left DPP in June and is now leading new political party UTM, the President has stripped Chilima of ministerial positions and other functions assigned to his office. His name missed on the Cabinet list Mutharika released recently.
During his UK trip, Chilima told British Broadcasting Corporation Hard Talk programme that he has not communicated with the President since June. The functions of the Office of the Vice-President in the country are predominantly delegated by the President.
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