Malawi Pres. JB on vital Britain visit: To hold talks with PM Cameron, lure investors

Malawi President Joyce Banda will this Saturday leave for United Kingdom where she is scheduled to undertake a number of official engagements including having an audience with British Prime Minister, David Cameron at  10 Downing Street in London.

The President will also hold meetings with the UK Secretary of State for the Department for International Development [DFID] and other British ministers, representatives of the Scottish Government as well as attend events marking the bicentenary of Dr. David Livingstone’s birth.

She is also expected to preside over a business forum to be hosted by the Developing Markets Associates with the co-operation of the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA) and the Malawi High Commission in UK.

According to a statement from the State House, President Banda is expected to depart Malawi at 12:30 hours through Chileka Airport in Blantyre.

British Prime Minister David Cameronto hold talks with Malawi Pres.  Dr Joyce Banda at Number 10.
British Prime Minister David Cameronto hold talks with Malawi Pres. Dr Joyce Banda at Number 10.

Nyasa Times understands that among other ministers President Banda has on her high-level delegation are Sosten Gwengwe of Industry and Trade, John Bande of Mining and Energy’s Ibrahim Matola.

The trip has reportedly been financed by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

But despite being partly funded trip, Malawians still want the President to cut her foreign travels because government is spending millions of tax payers as demonstrated some three weeks ago when she travelled toEquatorial Guinea.

Then government claimed to the nation that the trip was fully funded but leaked documents indicated that the trip cost Malawi about K34 million (about US$ 100 000) in external allowances and accommodation, among others.

Signed by the Presidential Press Secretary, Steve Nhlane  the statement says Banda’s trip to UK will further the development agenda and also boost trade and investment.

“During the visit Her Excellency will discuss opportunities for further support to Malawi’s development agenda; facilitating engagement with British businesses to increase trade and investment; taking forward Malawi’s cooperation against illegal migration and working together on regional issues of interest to both governments,” explains the statement.

Commenting on her visit, the statement quotes the Malawi leader saying “the visit will enable me to discuss further cooperation between Her Majesty’s Government and Malawi on development and showcase Malawi trade and investment opportunities to UK businesses as one way of graduating from aid to trade.”

Business forum

A member of Developing Markets Associates, who are organising the business forum, said the audience at the forum will include much of Malawi’s senior government officials and senior institutional investors from Europe and North America.

Organisers told Nyasa Times in London that the forum will be one of the most significant promotions to date of Malawi’s efforts to attract investment on the international stage.

“The Forum will also be attended by high ranking representatives and prominent members of the business community in particular those already engaged in Malawi.

“The programme will go on to paint a contemporary picture of the investment climate in Malawi and the country’s efforts to attract foreign direct investment. This will be followed by three further sessions including mines and energy, infrastructural development and agriculture and tourism,” explained the organisers.

“This event is the most significant investment drive the Malawian government has ever undertaken and as such affords an exceptional opportunity for the business community ready to engage at a strategic level.”

Besides the forum, President Banda and her entourage will also be treated to a private dinner where UK Parliamentarians, the forum speakers and sponsors will also be attendance.

Strong ties

The UK and Malawi have had deep ties until in 2011 when they were strained under former President Bingu wa Mutharika including a hiatus in the posting of the two countries’ respective High Commissioners.

And since Joyce Banda took over government in April 2012, Malawi has received over 150 million Pound Sterling (over K85 billion) from the UK government under DFID’s various programmes.

The amount is 10 million Pound Sterling (K5.7 billion) more than the previous years and also excludes UK’s direct funding to NGOs.

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