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Lazarus Chakwera sees US as key to 2063 agenda

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By Deogratias Mmana:

President Lazarus Chakwera has told the US government that it is key to Malawi’s realisation of 2063 agenda.

Chakwera was speaking on Thursday at African leaders’ session on promoting food security and food systems resilience in Washington.

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He said agriculture, tourism and mining are the three pillars that will attract investment and trade and unlock Malawi’s vast potential for achieving job creation, wealth creation, and food security in the pursuit of the 2063 development agenda.

“In summary, Mr. President, a partnership between Malawi and the United States in agriculture, tourism, and mining, akin to the partnership we have had in energy and road infrastructure through two multi-million dollar Millennium Challenge Compacts, can radically transform Malawi into the inclusively- wealthy and self-reliant nation we envision for ourselves, a nation whose wealth we refuse to lose through illicit financial flows by foreign plunderers or through the corrupt acts of domestic ones,” Chakwera said.

He further highlighted some initiatives his government has made in the three sectors. In agriculture, he said his government is reorganising four million smallholder farming households into cooperatives and clubs in which they can access affordable inputs like seeds and fertilisers to scale up their production for business instead of subsistence.

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He also said his government is implementing a mega farms initiative whose goal is to combine Malawi’s vast resources of arable land, fresh water, and human capital with foreign investments in irrigation technologies to mass produce food and cash crops.

Such crops include industrial hemp, soya, rice, wheat, sunflower, macadamia, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, avocados and maize to meet the demands of a growing global population.

“Mr. President, I thought to single out this game changing initiative of mega farms because I know that you yourself have been supportive of it. It was only six months ago at the G7 Summit in Germany that you announced that you were expanding the United States’ multi-billion dollar Feed the Future initiative to include Malawi and seven other countries.

“This is welcome, Mr. President, and I am hopeful that our expectation that these resources will go towards the agricultural priorities we ourselves have as a country will also be welcomed as we discuss modalities and logistics,” Chakwera said.

In tourism, he said he has just announced plans to waive visa requirements for tourists coming from the United States and other key markets to Malawi to develop airports, airlines, hotels, and resorts that will make Malawi an excellent host.

In mining, he said the government has created licensing procedures and a structured market for gold and rubies to end the era of exploitation and smuggling.

Chakwera was among 49 African leaders who attended the US-Africa summit at the invitation of US president Joe Biden, which took place on Wednesday in Washington.

When he met the leaders on Wednesday, Biden announced a three year $55 billion funding for Africa including $350 million to boost the continent’s digital economy besides $15 billion worth of deals signed at the US-Africa Business Forum.

He also announced the signing of a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area to “unlock new opportunities for trade and investment” between the US and Africa, according to the BBC.

The previous US-Africa Summit was held in 2014 and the latest one was an apparent move by Biden to catch up with China and Russia, who are America’s strategic competitors in Africa and make up for his predecessor Donald Trump who vilified the continent and diluted US’s attention.

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