Malawi President Joyce Banda on Friday returned home from a four day state visit to Zimbabwe and declared her diplomacy and trade trip a success.
Presidential assistant press officer Fallys Ngalauka said it’s hard to say how much the trade mission may ultimately be worth because it could lead to more opportunities down the road.
Ngalauka said while in Zimbabwe at the invitation of President Robert Mugabe, the Malawian leader had several engagements including opening of Zimbabwe Trade Fair, audience with Malawians based in Zimbabwe and touring several Zimbabwean projects.
Banda also toured Gushungo Dairy Farm, a subsidiary of Gushungo Holdings which belongs to indigenous people.
Speaking on Friday when she opened the trade fair in Bulawayo, President Banda said her visit was “ a clear manifestation of our commitment to work together and consolidate our bilateral cooperation between our two nations.”
Banda said she witnessed in Zimbabwe “ the goodness and greatness of Africa.”
Said said: “Indeed, Africa is a continent on the rise. As we all know the 20th Century was a difficult one for Africa. Although independence from colonial rule in the 1950s and 60s brought with it the hope and enthusiasm, this political independence did not necessarily correspond with the economic independence that was anticipated. Too often, Africa failed to harness the talent of her people and the wealth of her countries for sustainable growth. “
“However, in the last two decades, a significantly different picture of Africa has begun emerging. “
President Banda said in Africa, progress has been made in many areas that are important for the creation of a climate conducive to foreign direct investment.
“Trade liberalization, the strengthening of the rule of law, political stability, improvements in legal and other instruments as well as the telecommunications and transport infrastructures is some of the key positive changes aiding Africa’s business climate.”
Malawi leader pointed out that political reforms combined with the effects of economic and financial reforms taking place on the continent have added to the positive outlook for the continent.
“Experts predict that the continent’s combined consumer spending will grow to about 1.4 trillion in 2020. They also estimate that Africa has as many middle class households as India,” she said.
Banda said the key driver to Africa’s economic success has been its natural wealth, where Africa prides in contributing to about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, including about 40% of the world’s gold reserves.
“The exciting news is that the natural resources wealth explains just a part of the story. What I have observed is that Africa’s economy is becoming increasingly diversified in the following key sectors: financial services, health and pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, energy, construction, information and communication technology,” said President Banda.
She said: “Africa has decided to change the internal structure of her economy by improving business climate and macroeconomic policies which have spurred the broader domestic economies of many African countries.
“Infrastructure and technology are moving fast connecting the African countries to each other and the world at an unprecedented rate. There have been about 316 million new mobile phone users in Africa since 2000. Mobile phone usage has increased by 20% a year for the last 5 years opening up access to banking and other financial services.
“For example, rural farmers that previously wouldn’t have used banks can now access financial products through their mobile phones.”
The Malawi Head of State said Africa’s time has come to take its position in the world.
“Africa needs political will to drive political and economic governance. Africa needs political will to create an environment for macroeconomic stability.
“Most Governments in Africa today aim at establishing open, competitive and dynamic economic structures that can mobilize individual initiative and dynamic private enterprise. This needs to be encouraged,” said Banda.
She said Africa needs capital investment for its economic growth and development.
“This capital must be cheap and long term, one that is affordable and not exploitative.”
Banda informed that her administration’s agenda is to eradicate poverty through economic growth and wealth creation.
“To realize this, we have launched Economic Recovery Plan with five priority sectors: Agriculture, Energy, Mining, Tourism and Infrastructure Development. These priority areas provide an array of business opportunities for investment.”
Since assuming the presidency on April 12 last year following Bingu wa Mutharika’s sudden death, Banda has implemented a raft of reforms and pursued a different economic course to his predecessor to attracting foreign investment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :