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World Bank dares Tonse government on jobs

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RIDDELL—Investments are flagships

Malawi will not be able to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population unless it creates better jobs for more people.

This is according to a report which International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank launched in Lilongwe Tuesday.

Before ascending to power, the Tonse Alliance pledged to create one million jobs within its first year of governing the country.

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However, in an interview with the BBC earlier this year, President Lazarus Chakwera acknowledged that up to 600,000 Malawians had lost their jobs during the period in question, blaming the development on the Covid pandemic.

The President was at pains to mention a figure of jobs created.

And, in the latest development, the Malawi Country Private Sector Diagnostic indicates that the majority of Malawians rely on informal subsistence agriculture and services for their livelihood.

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It adds that finding a job is a near constant challenge for most Malawians and that, even in the case of those that find work, most of them are underemployed.

It refers to the government’s 2019-20 Integrated Household Survey, which indicated that 91 percent of respondents were engaged in at least some income-generating activity over the survey’s preceding 12-month period.

“Most of these activities were temporary, informal farming and fishing jobs. In urban areas, roughly one-quarter of respondents reported they could not find work in the past year. Formal waged jobs are rare. Only one in 10 Malawians in the labour force has a waged or salaried job,” the report says.

It adds that even those with a tertiary education struggle to find formal employment. According to the report, less than two-thirds of Malawians have found formal employment.

World Bank Country Manager Hugh Riddell said the bank believed that Malawi’s future was full of exciting opportunities but that what was required were twin pillars of a stable macro-economy and a predictable and transparent policy environment.

Riddell said the bank believed that the ambitious six percent per annum growth stipulated in the Malawi 2063 document was possible.

He, however, said meeting the targets required a step-change in private sector engagement in the economy and the creation of an enabling environment for business players.

“Where the policy environment enables it, the bank and the IFC are ready to support more of these catalytic partnerships– in digital infrastructure, multi-modal transport, tourism,” Riddell said.

Vice President Saulos Chilima, who presided over the launch of the report, said time had come for Malawi to reflect deeply on what needed to be done to bolster the private sector to drive productivity, create jobs, bestow incomes and generate the much needed revenue for social spending and poverty reduction by the government.

“This is the time to decisively implement measures that will enable us to develop a robust private sector that delivers on its promise of development for all Malawians.

“For our national vision, Malawi 2063, private sector dynamism and vibrancy is not a multiple choice,” Chilima said.

He said time had come for Malawi to think deeply about how to make the private sector vibrant so that it boosts production and create the much-needed jobs.

The report examines opportunities and constraints in four key sectors of energy, digital infrastructure and services, transport and logistics and agribusiness.

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