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MITC speaks on special economic zones progress

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Representatives of the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) have indicated that there was no allocation towards the planned Special Economic Zones (SEZ) development in the current financial year until funding for the projects was revised to K1 billion during the mid-year budget review meeting.

In a response to a questionnaire, MITC Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengwere said land acquisition has been a major setback in the implementation of SEZ.

“All the three sites earmarked for SEZs are in customary hands, hence would require compensating the persons affected by the project.

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Compensation assessment itself did not move as fast as we expected as the process is still underway, but at a very advanced level. We expect it to be concluded by the end of January 2023.

“On the other hand, the government resolved to develop Lilongwe and Blantyre SEZ sites using Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach. Salient reasons for choosing this approach are that these are infrastructure projects, hence there will be a need for both government and private sector to work together to ensure quality infrastructure is delivered. Other countries in Africa also prefer PPP as a development mode,” Kwengere said.

He added that MITC is working with Public Private Partnership Commission to recruit a transaction adviser.

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“Terms of Reference (TORs) of the assignment have been developed. Chigumula Industrial Park did not require compensation; government cleared it already. But there are regulatory requirements that have to be met before opening up the site.

“At the moment, we are finalising Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Master Plan which will be submitted to Malawi Environmental Protection Authority and Blantyre District Assembly, respectively, for approval. These will be submitted this month (January 2023). Once they are cleared, construction and marketing of the site will commence,” Kwengwere added.

However, presenting the 2022- 23 national budget to Parliament, Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe said the government had allocated K3.5 billion for the development of SEZ or industrial parks in Malawi.

He said the government had already paid for land in Chigumula, Blantyre, and was working with the Export Development Fund to mobilise resources for compensation.

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