Malawian President Joyce Banda, on Friday held bilateral discussions with the President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Akihiko Tanaka at the Intercontinental Yokohoma Hotel and witnessed the signing of a Grant Agreement where Japan will start constructing a multi-million Kwacha state-of-the-art Teachers’ Training College (TTC) for secondary school teachers in Lilongwe.
Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Ralph Jooma, signed on behalf of the Malawi Government while Akihiko Tanaka signed on behalf of the Japanese Government.
In her remarks, President Band aexpressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for the assistance it renders to Malawi through JICA, noting that Japan’s assistance to Malawi has been in various areas, which include debt relief, One Village One Product (OVOP), Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) activities and development projects.
“Malawi is proud to have received the highest number of Japanese volunteers, 1,600, since the programme began in 1971 in Malawi. The volunteers have contributed to the development of Malawi and enhanced our relations,” said Banda.
On transport infrastructure, which the President said is an impingement to Malawi’s domestic and international trade, she expressed gratitude for the various transport infrastructure projects that the Japanese Government has and is funding in Malawi.
The President observed that the Sena Corridor is very important to the development efforts of Malawi and appealed to JICA to favourably consider funding part of this project to ease the high transportation costs that Malawi faces in imports and exports.
On the Nacala Corridor Initiative, which JICA are already involved in, Banda requested JICA to rehabilitate the Nacala Railway Line for ease transportation of goods and people, adding the rehabilitation of the Limbe-Lilongwe-Mchinji Railway would go a long way in significantly reducing transport costs.
On his part, the JICA President paid tribute to President Banda for her visionary leadership, which he said was a motivation for JICA’s continued support and association with Malawi.
He pledged that the Japanese Government would continue to assist Malawi in various ways, resources permitting.