Chinese funds up for grabs
Malawi could benefit from a US$60 billion investment package the Chinese Government is offering African countries, if the country puts its house in order, The Daily Times has learnt.
The package was unveiled last year by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 2015 China-Africa forum in South Africa.
The package includes US$35 billion that offers concessional loans to governments for public projects that aim at improving business environment, US$5 billion for zero interest loans to support developmental projects in agriculture, health and poverty and some facility that SMEs in African countries like Malawi can access loans to implement their detailed business plans, a chance Malawian companies needs to grab.
Councilor in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce Yang Peipei told African journalists currently in China that the aim of the Chinese Government’s assistance package is to address key challenges that hinder African economies which include infrastructure, trade finance and expertise.
When asked by The Daily Times on what Chinese Government will do to ensure small economies such as Malawi develop capacity to attract fair share of the US$60 billion, Peipei said China has different approaches to different countries, saying the government is aware that different countries have different situations hence needs exclusive approaches if they are to exhaust their potential benefits from the assistance.
When asked about how proactive Malawi is to benefit from these resources, Ministry of Finance through spokesperson, Nations Msowoya, said government is laying ground for some projects whose proposals are at early stages.
He, however, expressed doubt over private sector’s level of preparedness to access their respective funds from the package, saying the opportunities have not been well publisiced.
“The government is working with the technical teams from EXIM Bank of China to agree on the final details of the projects. Once the details are known we will need to ensure that the due process of taking them to Parliament and obtaining the necessary approvals like environmental screening is done quickly to avoid losing time in terms of implementation.
“The priority projects submitted by government were in infrastructure like roads, energy and health sector which are very important to the social economic transformation of Malawi,” said Msowoya in an emailed response.
Meanwhile, Chinese private investments topped the Foreign Direct Investment in 2015 with about US$156 million mainly in tourism, agriculture and agro processing followed by United Arab Emirates with US$142 million in oil and gas ventures.
The year’s total investments of US$884.6 million were dominated by local and joint ventures with foreign companies which accounted for about US$415 million, according to figures provided by Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC).