By Deogratias Mmana
Malawi Government and European Union (EU) officials Wednesday signed a K352 billion grant for a multi-annual indicative programme (MIP) running from 2021 to 2027.
EU Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach said the K352 billion grant was for the first three years and would focus on three priority areas which include green and resilient economic transformation, democratic and economic governance and human development and social inclusion.
The financial allocation for 2025-27 will be determined following a review in 2024.
“The European Union has a long-standing partnership with Malawi. Today, we are marking a new step in our cooperation and, by committing ourselves to this long-term support, we do not only reaffirm the EU’s role as a reliable partner for Malawi for the future; we also demonstrate that EU-Malawi relations have developed from a donor-beneficiary relationship to a more mature and equal partnership characterised by shared responsibilities and solutions,” Skinnebach said.
He said, under green and resilient economic transformation, the EU would want to see Malawi thrive in the agri-food business by enhancing not only the profitability of the sector but also its environmental sustainability.
Under democratic and economic governance, the EU is interested in encouraging initiatives that reinforce Malawi’s governance institutions that can attract investors to grow.
“We can push for European investments to flow to Malawi but only when investors see advantages of doing so [can Malawi benefit],” Skinnebach said.
He said the EU was also on a mission to support Malawi to advance quality education and skills, adding that education was critical for the achievement of Malawi 2063 vision.
The grant would also be used for strengthening social protection systems to improve inequalities that exist among Malawians.
In line with the European Green Deal, the programme will work on climate action, gender equality and digital development as cross-cutting themes.
The Green Deal is the EU’s blueprint providing future generations in Europe with a good life by reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Sosten Gwengwe assured the EU that the funds would be used for the intended purpose and that procedures would not frustrate utilisation of the grant.
“More often than not, we, as development practitioners, have been lost in processes and procedures rather than the result which is ensuring that a farmer has access to the right market for his produce. Whilst procedures are important, let us not make them an end unto themselves but as guides to our work and to get things done quickly,” Gwengwe said.
“Through this MIP, we have enough ammunition within our reach to make a dent on poverty that has dehumanised our societies for decades,” he added.
He said the grant had come at the right time when the country needed forex.
EU-Malawi ties date back to 1976.