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$1 billion special eco zones on the cards

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Minister of Industry Roy Kachale has said plans are at an advanced stage to established special economic zones in the country’s major cities pegged at $1.4 billion (about K1.09 trillion).

In an interview on Wednesday Kachale said implementation of the plans awaits the passing of the Special Economic Zones Bill.

“There are several projects that we are going to undertake. The biggest one is establishment of the special economic zones which will be very huge industrial parks in Lilongwe at Area 55, in Blantyre at Matindi and in Mzuzu,” Kachale said.

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He said once the bill is passed, government will engage financiers and construction companies to set up the parks stressing that feasibility studies, master plans and business plans are in place.

This follows revelations that the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme) is advocating the establishment of Small and Medium Industry shells in the outskirts of the country’s major cities.

Nasme National Chairperson William Mwale said they have identified Kasiya in Lilongwe as a starting point and have since engaged chiefs in the area to provide land for the development.

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“Plans for proposed large industries in all districts were there under the development policy that was championed by the Malawi Export Promotion Council and the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency so we are just following those plans.

“We have setup a taskforce which engaged the chiefs in Kasiya to provide land for over 100 plots which will cater for an equivalent Small and Medium Industry factories and help the area develop through job creation,” Mwale said.

A recent study conducted by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) revealed that the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) shrank by eight percentage points to 9.1 percent between 1994 and 2019.

The study notes that the onset of poor performance in the sector is concurrent with the period in which the country’s trade regime was made more liberal and the period in which crowding out of public sector investment in the manufacturing industry took effect.

It further assumes that the country adopted an open trade policy without a strategic assessment of the impact that the policy would have on manufacturing enterprises resulting in the eroding away of the local manufacturers’ market share on the domestic market.

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