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Blackouts threaten Malawi’s top 100 dream

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Malawi’s dream of breaking into the top 100 economies on the World Bank Doing Business Index is likely to be shuttered by continued energy challenges, the Bretton Woods institution has said.

The 2018 World Bank Doing Business Report put Malawi on position 110 out of 190 economies, raising hopes that the country would soon break into the top 100 rankings.

Speaking in Blantyre on Monday on the sidelines of a Doing Business Forum, organised by Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist, Efrem Chilima, said Capital Hill should be swift in addressing the energy challenges.

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Chilima said the challenge with Malawi is that sometimes reforms are drafted, but implementation is a problem.

He said government has a big role to play to ensure that the reforms translate into improvements in terms of time, processes as well as availability of services and that people can easily do business in the country.

“The challenge of electricity has to be tackled. The separation of [Energy Generation Company] Egenco and [the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi] Escom are part of reforms, but we need to make sure that they are translating into improvements. So far, when you look at the rate of blackouts in the country, more needs to be done on the implementation side rather than just the reforms.

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“There are quite a number of reforms that are happening but we need to translate thaem into action,” Chilima said.

Ministry of Industry and Trade Director for Private Sector Development, Esther Mwimba, said Malawi is doing well in terms of the rankings.

“Last year, we moved 23 steps and, as a country, we are making reforms on the ground that have helped us to be benchmarked with other countries globally in terms of doing business,” she said.

Mwimba said Malawi’s chances of breaking into the top 100 rankings would also depend on how other economies are also doing.

“We believe that, with the reforms that we have put on the table, it may happen we might improve or we can remain where we are depending on what other countries are doing.

“As government, we are happy that we have put on the table some of the reforms that can be recognised by the Doing Business team of the World Bank and can help us improve on the doing business ranking,” she said.

The Ease of Doing Business Index ranks economies on their ease of doing business, from one to190. A high ease of doing business ranking means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm.

The rankings are determined by sorting the aggregate distance to frontier scores on 10 topics, each consisting of several indicators, giving equal weight to each topic.

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