Fresh promise on economic zones
Projects to woo $900 million investment
The government intends to create about 240,000 jobs through the Special Economic Zones, with Minister of Industry and Trade Simplex Chithyola Banda saying some of the structures would be constructed at least by June this year.
The government plans to establish the industrial parks in four sites—Chigumula and Matindi in Blantyre, Area 55 in Lilongwe and Dunduzu in Mzuzu—with the aim of turning Malawi into an industrialised economy.
The projects would attract $900 million (about K913.5 billion) worth of investment.
Pan-African multilateral trade finance institution, the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), recently announced that it had set aside $6 million (about K6 billion) for the Special Economic Zones initiative.
The zones would propel creation of industries, job opportunities, increased export of Malawian manufactured goods, expansion of cities and making available land for houses to reduce slums and promote businesses in view of Malawi 2063’s industrialisation agenda.
The government already earmarked 624 hectares across three regions to develop the special economic zones which will transform cities and provide jobs through value-addition of export oriented products and other products that can compete favourably with imports.
Speaking when he toured some of the set sites in Blantyre on Friday, Chithyola Banda said some groundwork has already started and that the parks will soon take shape.
He said his ministry will start working with other government ministries, departments and agencies towards tabling and passing of the Special Economic Zones Bill to guide operations of the sites.
“One of the crucial things we are going to push is for a Special Economic Zones Bill to be passed into law so that we do not delay any longer because the country cannot grow economically without factories.
“As a country, we need to ensure that we increase our production for the export market. That is why we would soon be signing deals with various investors who have shown interest in investing in industrial parks,” Chithyola Banda said.
He then reiterated the government commitment in turning Malawi into a manufacturing and exporting nation.
According to Chithyola Banda, the government will incentivise domestic and foreign investors to venture into various projects under the industrial parks initiative.
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) is spearheading the initiatives which officials also say is currently at an advanced stage.
Mitc Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengwele said the master plan for the industrial parks is almost complete.
“A lot has been done already; water has been connected to the areas where the factories will be constructed and, of course, the place will have its own substation, which will be providing electricity to the parks. So, we are confident that once operations start, there will be no challenges associated with electricity,” Kwengwele said.
In his State of Nation Address delivered in Parliament two weeks ago, President Lazarus Chakwera reiterated his administration’s commitment to industrialise the country through industrial parks among other initiatives.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.