Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who is worth an estimated $18.4billion, has failed to attend the high profile Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) which President Peter Mutharika opened in Lilongwe Monday.
The Nigerian industrialist who has investments in cement, sugar and flour, was expected in Lilongwe, the country’s capital, to hold private talks with President Peter Mutharika to discuss avenues for a potential investment.
But organisers confirmed Dangote’s no show when Mutharika opened the trade meeting, citing the billionaire businessman’s “security concerns.”
Dangote is aggressively expanding his business empire across several African countries. He recently launched a $500 million cement plant in Ethiopia, and is building other plants in Kenya, Niger and Congo, among other places.
In his address after opening the forum, President Mutharika said investment, both foreign and domestic, is the engine that will develop the economy of Malawi from a predominantly importing and consuming to a predominantly exporting and producing one.
“We believe that the private sector will bring the prosperity that our people earnestly deserve,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said the country has initiated and implemented various reforms that will make the journey towards investment in Malawi easier.
“My Government will also provide security for foreign direct investments including flexibility in repatriation of profits,” pledged the Malawi leader.
Mutharika said the country has established a One-Stop-Service-Centre at the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre to assist investors with the registration of a company, the identification of land, the processing of employment permits and other required licenses, and advise on available incentives.
The President made a case for Malawi being conducive for investment, saying the country has liberalised the exchange rate and will uphold the policy.
“As a result, the Malawi Kwacha has been stable over the last year and the government expects that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future,” he assured.
He said Malawi has upgraded the electricity generation capacity and introduced demand side management measures.
“Malawi’s electricity supply has become increasingly reliable as generation capacity exceeds demand during off-peak hours,” said Mutharika.
He dislosed that as part of the upgrading of the transportation corridors, a rail line from Tete to the deep sea port of Nacala has been constructed, which Mutharika said will provide “fast access” to the Indian Ocean and cut transportation costs for the import and export of products.
Mutharika also told investors that Malawi has in this month of June, 2015 become a signatory of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement bringing together twenty six (26) countries from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Eastern African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The treaty will boost regional trade and open up investment opportunities that seemed impossible a couple of years ago.
Mutharika nonetheless said there is “much more to be done” to improve the competitiveness of Malawi as an investment destination.
Malawi investment is intended to be national and annual event in Malawi that will bring foreign investors, local investors, heads of public institutions and development partners together to collectively discuss the business environment in Malawi and to identify prospective investment areas of interest.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :