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Things we take for granted

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Sometimes, we need to appreciate not just how valuable life is but also the abundant gifts that we are given by nature, which when well exploited can propel our beautiful country to attain some economic returns. My mind took me down this lane in the course of the week after hearing all the ‘sweet’ and ‘enchanting’ speeches delivered by delegates who made the 41st Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit in Lilongwe.

Time and again, we have heard such well-crafted rhetoric along the lines of regional economic integration; with promises by some member states to ease restrictions, especially pertaining to trade. But, indeed, talk is cheap because sons and daughters within the Sadc region who are engaged in cross-border trade are forking out huge sums of money just to simply process and clear their goods. Do not get me started on registered companies and entrepreneurs who are equally left frustrated on numerous occasions due to the same problem.

And yet when you look around, you begin to appreciate that, from all the available natural resources and those produced by honest and hardworking individuals, we stand a better chance of bolstering trade and other economic activities as a bloc if all member countries were to make good of their commitments to do with opening up towards regional economic integration in Southern Africa.

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I mean, with all the crops produced such as rice, maize, sisal, sorghum, soy beans as well as fish, bee keeping and livestock industry, I see no reason why some countries should have shrinking economies while their neighbours are going miles ahead with their thriving economies and industries. We should all give each other a little push and that helping hand can, eventually, lead to a symbiotic relationship (did I hear someone say I have taken you into a science class with symbiosis?).

For instance, if you have carefully observed, some countries also have thriving shipping industries, well developed motor industries, just to mention a few, and yet little has been done for other countries to tap from these better-off nations or to support them.

And, now, President Lazarus Chakwera has been thrown in the mix by virtue of assuming the role of chairperson of Sadc and these are some of the things he will have to seriously give consideration to, if at all, we are going to reap tangible benefits, not just as Malawi, but as Southern Africa.

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Speaking of Malawi, at least for the time being, we are hearing some noise, with the government stepping on the gas pedal to ensure that the Buy Malawi Strategy is well and truly adopted by everyone; from producers of goods right down to the consumer once the product hits the market. But then what we should be seeing now is a lot of companies and entrepreneurs in the country bringing value addition to the raw materials that are produced locally. It was interesting to note some small and medium enterprises taking advantage of the Sadc Summit in Lilongwe to exhibit their products to the delegates. Such things should not be taken for granted. You can bet that, even on this occasion, there might have even been some nay-sayers who might have attempted to distract those that successfully carried out the exhibition.

So, next time you are going to your farm or garden to cultivate crops, do not restrict your thinking to just growing enough for your household needs because some of the companies we have in the country could be in need of the same to use as raw materials during production in their factories.

Come to think of it, there once was One Village One Product (Ovop) in Malawi, through which we were told that factories would be planted in most districts. But here we are, several years later; still seeing perishables such as fruits lying along the streets of the major roads while, in some corners, it is the effort of development partners that has given a little push to some industrious groups that have added value to their produce.

As always, I tend to divert my attention; we are talking about not taking things for granted and, certainly as Malawi, we should not take for granted the honour bestowed on us, through President Chakwera, to chair Sadc. But I deliberately broadened the scope of this discussion to ensure that we all get to appreciate how Africa has been endowed with resources that can propel its success.

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