Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Malawi economy

         Malawi's is an agricultural economy which, in recent years, has been troubled by drought and financial instability. It is dependent for most of its income on the export sales of tobacco (60%), and tea and sugar (20%). Other agricultural products include peanuts, coffee, and wood products. As a result of the 1992 drought, GDP declined by 7.9% after averaging 4.5% annual growth in 1989–91, and an impressive 6.7% annual growth rate during the 1970s. Growth averaged an annual 3.7% from 1988 to 1998. It was 1.7% in 2001. International aid donors, concerned about human rights abuses in Malawi, have tied future support to human rights reforms. Beginning in 2000, the country was the recipient of $1 billion in debt service relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
Manufacturing is small-scale, directed mainly to the processing of export crops. In 2000, the agricultural sector employed an estimated 86% of Malawi's population and accounted for about 40% of GDP. Over 90% of the population lives in rural areas. The sector experienced severe droughts in 1979–81, 1992, 1994, and 2001–02. Periods of flooding also plague Malawi, as happened in 2003. Production of maize, the main food staple, during the 2001/02 growing season was 1.6 million metric tons, approximately 600,000 short of estimated domestic demand. The World Bank approved a $50-million assistance package for drought recovery in Malawi in November 2002. Other environmental challenges include deforestation and erosion. Recent economic reforms have led to the market pricing in the agricultural sector. The fledgling mining sector in Malawi is slowly growing with the support of international financing.
The government continues to privatize the ownership of public enterprises although the wealth of the country resides in the hands of a small elite. By 2000, over one-third of the more than 90 state-owned enterprises had been sold to private hands.

Read more: Malawi economy

Friday, February 5, 2010

Malawi: Mutharika warns Malawians not to expect 'chunks of money' from AU

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika Thursday warned "over-expectant Malawians" that there would not be a "chunk of money flowing into the country because we have assumed the chairmanship of the African Union," PANA reported from here.

Since his election to head the AU for the next year at the weekend, most Malawians - especially Mutharika's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) zealots - have been saying "Malawi stands to benefit" from Mutharika's ascendancy to the pinnacle of African politics.

However, economists have warned that in fact, Malawi should expect to foot some cost surrounding the chairmanship.

Said Mutharika in remarks broadcast on state radio: "As chairman of the AU, I will be traveling to different countries to meet different heads of state and organisations. We will get some prestige."

Mutharika was speaking on his return from the AU summit in Ethiopia, where he was elected chairman of the largely peace-making continental body, taking over from Libyan strongman Mouammar Kadhafi.

"After transacting the business of African Union, I will take an opportunity to address challenges that our different sectors of the economy are experiencing and that would be our major benefit.

'However, after the end of our tenure of office, we will evaluate the benefits," he said at an airport news conference.

Finance Minister Ken Kandodo wants Parliament, currently sitting in the capital, Lilongwe, to approve 500 million Malawi kwacha (about US$ 3 million) to run activities that the president would undertake as AU chair.

The funds will also enable the country, which depends on donor funds for its development programmes, to host AU meetings, including one by African finance and planning ministers set for March in the administrative capital Lilongwe, according to the Finance Minister.


APA-Lilongwe (Malawi) Malawi’s Central and Eastern African Railways (CEAR) Director of Marketing and Commercial Services, Wilfred Ali, on Friday said that the construction of the Mchinji railroad from central western Malawi into Chipata in eastern Zambia will be completed before the end of February this year.

He said on arrival from Zambia where he attended a meeting on the Nacala Development Corridor that 95 percent of construction works on both the railway line and the station terminal building have been completed.

"Shipping of goods going from and to these two countries will start as soon as this rail construction has been completed," he said.

He therefore bemoaned vandalism on the railway line as the greatest challenge in the development of the Nacala Corridor, which includes the Mchinji-Chipata railway, and connects to the Indian Ocean port of Nacala in Mozambique.

The rail project was a major economic target for both Zambia and Malawi because it would reduce the costs of transportation, he added.

Election of Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, as Chairperson of the AU

The U.S. congratulates Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, on his election by the African Union General Assembly to serve as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and looks forward to continuing our partnership with the AU to promote peace, prosperity, and security for all Africans. We share Chairperson Mutharika’s goals of ending child hunger and malnutrition and welcome his interest in promoting the critical goal of agricultural development and food security on the continent. The U.S. stands ready to partner with the AU on promoting democracy and good governance and to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections on the continent in the coming year. We also welcome Chairperson Mutharika’s pledge to isolate those in Africa who seek power through unconstitutional means.

The UNITED STATES will continue to work with the African Union to confront ongoing stability challenges in Guinea, Niger, and Madagascar and to further peace and reconciliation in Somalia, Darfur, Zimbabwe and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We also hope to work closely with our African partners to confront the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence on the continent and ensure the full participation of Africa’s women in its socio-economic development.

We commend the AU for its efforts to work on these issues and pledge our continued assistance on these and other matters.

Malawi-South Africa-World Cup 2010

APA-Lilongwe (Malawi) Malawian poet Stanley Kenani’s poem will be among the selected few poems to be displayed on billboards in
South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup starting in June.

The poem, titled "Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu" in the Zulu language, roughly translates that "We Belong To Each Other" as human beings

The 25-word poem explains that the world is a large football pitch where nobody is alone and that life is a game for all, poor or rich to win, and we have to play it as one people.

According to Megan van den Heever, a media intern at Art for Humanity (formerly Artists for Human Rights) organisers, the aim of the project was to challenge xenophobic attitudes by bringing together artistic and poetic voices from around the world into a print portfolio.

"The art and poetry portfolio will be widely exhibited throughout South Africa and internationally," Van den Heever said.

He added that the art and poetry would also be featured in a public advocacy campaign on posters, billboards and banners in public places during the World Cup and beyond.

Malawi man arrested for putting up gay rights posters

Steven Monjeza, left, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were arrested after their gay wedding in Malawi, wait for a bail hearing. Photograph: Eldson Chagara/Reuters

A man has been arrested in Malawi for putting up posters championing gay rights in the latest sign of official intolerance towards homosexuality.

Police said Peter Sawali, 21, was found with stacks of expertly and expensively printed posters displaying such messages as "Gay rights are human rights". Police added that officers were searching for other Malawians whom they believed were working on a campaign with outside help.

The debate over gay rights has intensified in Malawi after the first same-sex couple to attempt marriage were arrested last December and charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency, which could result in a 14-year jail sentence.

A police spokesman, Dave Chingwalu, said the man arrested for putting up posters would be charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace, punishable with a fine of up to 5,000 kwacha (about £20) or up to three months in prison.

"We are still investigating because we believe there is a chain of people who were working with Sawali," Chingwalu said. "We cannot rule out international sponsors because of the quality and the quantity of the posters. They might even have been produced outside."

A group of Malawian human rights activists recently formed the Centre for the Development of People to fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities. The group says studies show that homophobic legislation is driving gay people underground and making it harder to reach them with information that could protect them from Aids.

Another group, Broad Coalition, has distributed leaflets, posters and pictures promoting gay rights but keeps the names of its members secret.

Malawi has been criticised by human rights groups for prosecuting Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, who have been in custody since their wedding celebration. Their next hearing is on Friday.

Mauya Msuku, the couple's lawyer, said the laws under which they were charged were archaic and unconstitutional. "The penal code criminalises homosexuality or same-sex marriages but under the bill of rights in the new constitution it is clearly stated that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of – among other things – sexual orientation," he said.

Msuku has asked the country's chief justice for a constitutional review.

Malawi names preferred concessionaire for lake transport service

The Malawi government has named Portuguese multidisciplinary engineering group Mota Engil the preferred bidder for the concession to manage Malawi Lake Services (MLS), a State-owned entity that runs water transport services in the Southern African country.

Malawi Privatistisation Commission (MPC) CEO Jimmy Lipunga says that Mota Engil was named the preferred concessionaire after shrugging off competition from two other firms: ETC Marine and Jeilo Investments.

“Mota Engil attained the highest evaluated score for both the technical and financial [aspects] and has been designated the preferred bidder,” says Lipunga.

The MPC will soon start negotiations with Mota Engil on how the Portuguese company can improve its technical and financial proposals so that they are more responsive to the aims of Malawi’s privatisation programme.

In its proposal, Mota Engil is offering $3,5-million to acquire MLS’s existing vessels, with a commitment to having them rehabilitated within two years.

“The preferred bidder will also invest in two luxury yachts for the tourist market,” says Lipunga.

He also states that Mota Engil has made provision for Malawian participation of up to 20% in a special-purpose vehicle that will operate the MLS concession. The Malawi government will be entitled to 2,5% of gross revenue, while 1% will be directed towards supporting the government-owned Marine Training College.

Lipunga reports that the Portuguese firm is also planning to build a $10-million hotel in the Monkey Bay area, a tourism hub, in a joint venture arrangement.

Mota Engil initially ventured into the Malawi market as a road construction contractor.

The company is currently constructing the Nsanje inland port, which will be Malawi’s port of call in the proposed $6-billion Shire–Zambezi waterway project, expected to link landlocked Malawi to the Indian Ocean through the dredging of a canal in the Shire and Zambezi rivers.

The Portuguese firm will also manage the port.

India, Malawi to finalise MoU on mineral resources

india and Malawi on Friday explored the possibility of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the development of the southern African nation’s mineral resources, particularly uranium and coal.

Though Malawian Vice-President Joyce Banda specifically sought India’s assistance in the development of its recently discovered uranium sources, the Indian delegation, led by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, remained non-committal as Malawi made it clear that it primarily wanted India’s help in generating energy out of its resources.

A joint communique issued later in the day said the two sides agreed to expedite negotiations to finalise the MoU.

Asked about the kind of help Malawi wanted from India vis-À-vis development of uranium, Ms. Banda said energy security was of paramount importance to her country. “Mining of uranium is just a component in energy generation and we are trying to use all sources, including uranium, water, wind and coal for this.”

The discovery of uranium in Malawi a few years back has drawn considerable world attention and recent years have seen several countries open diplomatic missions there. Large-scale mining of uranium is yet to be developed, with uranium production beginning as recently as September 2009 at the Kayelekara mine owned by Paladin Energy of Australia.

India is seeking a foothold in Malawi’s energy sector on the strength of its historic ties with this former British colony, and Mr. Ansari’s visit, according to External Affairs Ministry officials, reflected the “enormous fund of goodwill Malawi has for India.”