Malawi President Joyce Banda has left for the Belgian capital, Brussels, to attend the 7th European Development Days (EDDs) summit scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday amid discontent from many Malawians for globe-trotting and going with huge delegations.
President Banda, flying on a commercial plane, a South African Airways (SAA), departed Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe at 13:30hrs.
The Malawi leader, who is expected to deliver a keynote address, has gone to Brussels at the invitation of Jose Barroso, President of the European Commission (EC).
She said the Belgium trip provides her a rare opportunity to address European leaders where she will market her development plans with a focus on her main agenda of eradicating poverty.
“What I believe other countries are going to do, including me, is to challenge the European Union to see how they can address issues of eradicating poverty and how we can achieve equity and lack of discrimination as we distribute our wealth,” she asserted.
The president’s trip comes amid a backdrop of public anger against her unchecked foreign travels which economic experts have described as hazardous to the already feeble economy.
However, the State House in Lilongwe says President Banda and her delegation are fully sponsored by the European Commission (EC), organisers of the two-day summit.
Next stop Dubai
From Belgium, President Banda told reporters on departure, she will stopover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) where she will also deliver another keynote address at the World Energy Forum on 22nd October.
Organisers of the Dubai energy forum are also said to have fully funded the trip.
The president said she will also discuss with the European ambassadors on the issue of small scale irrigation which is under one of the five sectors highlighted in the newly launched Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), agriculture.
During her stay, she will also have special meetings with the President of the European Commission and other high level EU representatives to discuss bilateral relations and development challenges, including EU support to Malawi.
The European Development Days is an annual policy event that brings together hundreds of development advocates, decision makers and practitioners.
This year’s theme is “Inclusive and Sustainable Growth for Human Development.”
According to information sourced from the EC website, there will be about 50 events taking place during the two-day summit including 22 High Level Panel Discussions.
The aim of the meeting is a presentation of High Level Panels by the organisers according to the following thematic clusters: Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Resilience, Engaging the Private Sector for Development and Empowering People for Inclusive Growth
From Dubai the president is expected to fly direct to Zambia to attend the Independence Day for the Zambians.
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