- Category: Business Review
- Published Date
- Written by Christopher Jimu
Japanese Ambassador to Malawi Fujio Samukawa says he is finding it difficult to sell Malawi to Japanese investors because of its high transport costs, poor infrastructure and frequent blackouts.
Samukawa’s remarks comes barely a week after Transport and Public Works Minister Sidik Mia also admitted at the fourth transport sector review meeting in Lilongwe that Malawi’s transport costs are high.
Samukawa has, however, advised government to revive the country’s railway system as it is cheaper than road transport.
“Most Japanese companies are interested in countries along the sea because it is easy to transport goods. In southern Africa, we have companies in Mozambique, South Africa and Angola because [transport costs are low].
“Malawi should heavily market itself because it has potential to do better. What it needs to do is to improve its infrastructure, solve the blackout problem and invest in the education of its people,” said Samukawa.
He said the increasing number of countries interested to invest in Malawi’s mining sector is a clear indication that it has potential, but deliberate efforts have to be made to make the energy sector vibrant.
He commended government’s plans to connect Malawi to Mozambique’s electricity system, saying the move will solve the problem of intermittent power supply once implemented.
“Much as we are trying to sell Malawi to investors in Japan not many people know much about this country so efforts should be made to market it all over the world. The negativity that is outside Africa about this continent must be stopped through vigorous marketing.
“Trade and investment are the two areas Malawi must heavily invest in because there are companies out there that are also interested in the country’s agriculture sector, especially coffee, tea and sugar. If the country produces more of these crops, it can easily trade and the money be used to develop its infrastructure.
“In Japan, there is a chain of companies known as Dotour which is interested in buying coffee from Malawi, but the problem is the capacity. The market is there, but Malawi is not producing enough coffee for export,” said Fujikawa.
He also commended government for putting in place measures to resuscitate the economy and for allocating a huge chunk in the national budget to the education sector, saying an informed nation can easily develop.
“We will always help government meet its needs, but we cannot manage to reach out to all the areas; hence, government and private sector must also work hard to find solutions to the challenges facing the country,” advised Samukawa.
In the World Bank 2013 ease of doing business, Malawi also slipped six steps from 151 to 157, showing it is expensive to do business in the country compared to others in the world.