Malawi Tuesday launched the Secondary Cities Plan, which seeks to transform eight rural areas into secondary cities as one way of easing pressure on the current cities.
The eight rural areas earmarked for development into secondary cities are Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Chipoka in Salima, Liwonde in Machinga, Monkey Bay in Mangochi, Kasungu, Luchenza in Mulanje and Bangula in Nsanje.
Launching the plan in Lilongwe, Minister of Local Government Blessings Chinsinga said urbanisation, if well managed facilitates sustained economic growth, thereby promoting broad social welfare gains as articulated in Sustainable Development Goal number 11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
He observed that the world’s population is urbanising and wealth creation is increasingly clustering in urban areas.
According to Chinsinga, processes of democratisation and social welfare development often find most intense expression in urban areas.
Chinsinga said, it is, therefore, imperative that Malawi has to face the challenge of managing the urbanisation process now.
“Socio-economic indicators for sustainable development in urban councils, to a large extent, depend on the function of a common dependent variable of population growth.
“The population of Malawi’s major cities was projected at 3,304,531 in June, 2019 and it is projected to reach 4,254,811 by 2023. This means that the population of major cities will have increased by 18.3 percent from 2019 to 2025,” he said.
Chinsinga added that the effects of population growth have horrendously impacted on the livelihoods of citizens, in particular proliferation of slums, insufficient service delivery, congestion on our roads, pollution and water problems, security concerns and environmental degradation, among others.
“The adoption of the Secondary Cities Initiative has, therefore, come at the opportune time,” Chinsinga said.
Minister of Lands, Sam Kawale, said his ministry will provide land to investors willing to turn the secondary cities initiative into reality.
One of the investors in the secondary cities initiative, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Jesus Nation Church said he is injecting $50 million in the first two phases of the Goshen City Project in Mangochi.
Bushiri said Goshen City is a futuristic, commercial, tourist smart city located in Malawi with administratively defined boundaries whose members will work primarily on both agricultural and non-agricultural tasks.
“We would like to see Malawi becoming a regional hub for technology, tourism and medical care. This in turn will drive more people to Malawi that will boast foreign exchange, hence improving Malawi’s economy,” Bushiri said.
National Planning Commission Chairperson Professor Richard Mkandawire expressed hope that the Secondary Cities Plan will be sustained beyond political regimes and not dropped based on mere populist political posturings.
According to Mkandawire, all that Malawians want is quality life and not political bickering.
“It is in this regard that we applaud efforts by previous regimes around taking development to the rural people on which this Secondary Cities Plan is building on.
“These have included rural growth centres during the Malawi Congress Party and United Democratic Front regimes; the rural community colleges during the Democratic Progressive Party regime; the Mudzi Transformation Initiative during the People’s Party regime,” Mkandawire said.