Our investigations this week revealed that the total accommodation capacity of almost all standard hotels, motels, lodges, cottages and guest houses in the capital city is about 1 800 which is less than half of the expected delegates.
According to a Comesa compilation of overall accommodation capacity for Lilongwe as at August last year, the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hotels and all standard lodging facilities had a total of 1 609 rooms, including the recently built Chinese Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel which has 120 rooms.
With the yet-to-be-opened five-star hotel which has 130 rooms and the presidential villas, LilongweÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capacity to accommodate the delegates is expected to increase to about 1 760.
According to the list, Sunbird Capital has 182 rooms while Sunbird Lilongwe has 94 rooms. Crossroads Hotel has 101 rooms while accommodation capacities for Kalikuti and Pacific hotels are 90 and 48 respectively.
AU (Malawi) information officer Golie Nyirenda on Tuesday demanded a questionnaire to give the projected number of delegates for the summit. She had not yet responded to the questionnaire which she said was referred to AU secretariat in Ethiopia as we went to bed.
Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Preparation of the AU Summit, Sidik Mia, on Wednesday said they expect about 4 000 people to attend the summit.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The summit is expected to attract about 4 000 participants and government has secured a good number of hotels, lodges and guest houses. The accommodation sub-committee will endeavour to identify the required 4 000 rooms for delegates,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mia.
He said the seven-member AU evaluation team, which was in the country last week, visited several facilities to be used for the summit, including the Bingu International Conference Centre and presidential suites in some hotels.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Kondwani Nankhumwa said government will find ways of addressing any possible shortages of accommodation should the problem arise.