The Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (Ibam) has called for close cooperation among local businesses ahead of the June 2012 African Union (AU) Summit if the entrepreneurs are to make the most of the indaba.
AU heads of State and government agreed during a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this year that Malawi should host the 19th Ordinary Session of the African Union.
Among issues to be tackled at the summit will be a vote to choose the chairperson of the AU secretariat.
During the Addis Ababa meeting, a vote to fill up the post produced no clear winner between incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon and South Africaâ€™s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
According to government officials, the meeting is expected to benefit forex-starved Malawi as it will bring over 4 000 delegates from across the continent who are expected to pour plenty of dollars into the country.
Speaking in Blantyre on Wednesday, Ibam president Mike Mlombwa called for unity among service providers to ensure cohesion and guarantee that the benefits are shared among all players.
Mlombwa, who is the managing director of Countrywide Car Hire, proposed the harmonisation of all car hire companies to ensure that business deals are well coordinated.
“This is a very big gathering and it presents a very big opportunity for businesses in various sectors of the economy. These delegates will bring the much-needed forex that will help improve the forex situation in the country. For us to make the most of the meeting, there is need for us to work together.
“For example, in the car hire industry, the summit will bring plenty of business which no single operator can handle; hence the need for all of us to join hands and pool our resources together under one broker.
“It will also mean asking other people who have quality vehicles which they can let out because the business will be overwhelming,” said Mlombwa.
Last month, various commentators, including Vice-President Joyce Banda, raised concerns about the country hosting the summit, arguing resources for the meeting should be used to solve Malawiâ€™s current economic problems.
“I am of the view that with the current economic problems Malawians are facing, we canâ€™t afford the luxury of hosting such a big summit which will definitely milk our resources. It is important for Malawi to use the money to buy drugs in hospitals unlike being too ambitious to hold the summit,” said Banda during a recent rally she addressed at Kasiya in Lilongwe.
The Vice-President said with the pressing issues Malawi is facing, this is the right time for President Bingu wa Mutharika to tell the African Union secretariat to find another venue for the summit.
But Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati, who is also government spokesperson, trashed the Vice-Presidentâ€™s suggestion to call off the hosting of the summit, describing such thinking as unwise.
“The guests to the summit will bring the much-needed forex; so, why should we worry about hosting the summit instead of celebrating,” said Kaliati.
Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa recently indicated that Malawi can potentially raise $6 million from hosting the summit.