The Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) lived up to its billing on Monday, opening at a high note with several speakers extolling the country’s investment opportunities and climate as big financing institutions challenged investors to sign deals they are ready to finance.
Delegates oversubscribed the event that initially targeted 300 people but as of Sunday close to 400 from 31 countries had confirmed to patronise what is perceived as the country’s economic turning point.
A world-class organisation of the international function was manifested in the way events turned from the morning of Monday before President Peter Mutharika officially opened the event with an assurance of investor protection.
Diplomats, heads of regional groupings, Cabinet ministers and heads of financing institutions dominated the morning session, giving a positive impression of the country as an investment destination. Representing diplomats, leader of the diplomatic community, Thandiwe Thumbushena assured the foreign investors of the peaceful environment with political stability.
On his part the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) executive secretaries said the investors would not be investing for the Malawi market only but the region with a vast regional market.
“If you invest in Malawi you are not only investing in a small market but you are investing in a regional market that offers a big market opportunities,” said Sadc Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax.
She further assured the investors of interconnected transport and power infrastructure which facilitates intra regional trade, saying the One Stop Border Posts being constructed are poised to further smoothen cross-border trade.
While describing the country as an oasis of peace, Comesa Executive Secretary Sindiso Ngwenya said with the tripartite market that has been established in Africa, investing in countries that are signatories means an access to a US$1.3 trillion worth of market with a population of over 600 million people.
He described the Malawi labour force as disciplined, urging the companies to focus on labour intensive projects like energy, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing among others.
Other speakers included the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative Geoffrey Oestreicher, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Chief Executive Officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira, US-based OPIC Bank vice president James Polan, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Industry and Trade Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha before the President briefly assured the investors of government’s support in his opening speech.
He promised that government will protect the foreign investors that decide to invest in Malawi.
“You will discover a lot of opportunities. You can build strong partnerships with the country’s private sector and you will see why Malawi is called the Warm Heart of Africa,” he said.
The opening session on Monday preceded the cluster discussions in the afternoon where investors patronised specific sector meetings
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