By Alick Ponje
PRESIDENT Lazarus Chakwera has praised bilateral relations between Malawi and Nigeria, saying cooperation in areas of trade, investment, arts and intermarriages has surged over the past decades.
Chakwera had talks with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The Malawi leader said he and Buhari share similar sentiments that their two countries should continue exploring more areas of mutual cooperation to cement their people’s shared aspirations.
“We talked on how Malawi can draw some value from Nigeria as an oil producer. Oil is a major driver of our economy and makes Nigeria a strategic partner.
“This relationship needs to be enhanced and we discussed our preparations to open an embassy in Abuja as one way of fully formalising our ties,” Chakwera said in a post on his official Facebook page.
He joined over 20 African Heads of State and Government at the AU’s first extraordinary humanitarian summit that officially commenced on Friday.
Yesterday, the African leaders discussed terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government, an area that was thought of on the back of five coups that have taken place in Africa since 2021.
Terror attacks have also been registered in various regions and countries including the Sahel, Somalia, Angola, Mozambique and the Central African Republic.
Chakwera said the key issue under discussion at the summit was the need for governments to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to over 113 million Africans who are in the red zone due to a number of social, political, economic and environmental calamities.
“The global donor community is also part of this meeting to further consolidate our efforts to provide sustainable solutions to the humanitarian problem,” Chakwera said.
On the eve of the AU summit, the Malawi leader held talks with Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Mbasogo where the two presidents “pre-emptively” discussed the summit’s agenda.
At the opening of the high-level meeting, Mbasogo said Africa must positively look at its own development plans without accepting international interference.
“Our founding fathers of the AU knew that Africa must not be divided by any challenges of the world; hence, the need to work together. Solutions to the matters affecting Africa lie in the hands of African leaders themselves,” Mbasogo said.
In his address, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said humanitarian emergencies in Africa, numerous, diverse and geographically dispersed, are a permanent source of concern.
“They are illustrated by figures and statistical data drawn up and compiled by the United Nations Specialised Agencies. I will limit myself to the general trends that emerge in the five regions of the continent.
“In the 15 most affected member states, 113 million people are waiting for emergency assistance in 2022. East Africa and the Horn of Africa are currently hosting 4.5 million refugees, more than 75 percent of whom have been affected by the reduction in food rations in 2021,” Mahamat said.
He described the summit as a moment of intense emotion in view of the existential fragility of people trapped in forced displacement, exile and statelessness for various reasons.
“They wait with anxiety and impatience for our generosity and our duty of humanity to alleviate their multiple sufferings,” Mahamat said.
Apart from hosting tens of thousands of refugees from various African countries, Malawi is also facing a humanitarian situation in the case of some survivors of tropical storms that hit the Southern Region early this year.
Before proceeding to Equatorial Guinea, Chakwera had participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.