The People’s Republic of China says it has invested about K355 billion in the eight years it has had diplomatic relations with Malawi.
Some of the notable projects are the Parliament building, the President’s Hotel and Presidential Villas in Lilongwe, the Karonga-Chitipa Road and Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo, among others.
China’s director general of African Affairs Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador, Lin Songtian, said this in China to visiting Malawian journalists.
He said: “We channel the money directly to projects. Our Ambassador in Malawi just signs for it, he does not even touch it. Your government cannot touch it as well.
“With this strategy, we have managed to do more projects with little funds as compared to the funding you have been receiving from other developmental partners.”
He said he is proud that in just eight years, China has done a lot as compared to other partners who have been in Malawi for over 100 years.
“They never cared about Parliament building. We cannot let members of Parliament [MPs] discuss democracy under a tree,” said Lin, who was the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi.
He said out of the money, about K189 billion are loans while the rest are grants, but advised the Government of Malawi not to depend on grants because they cannot bring in economic development.
He said China has changed its concept of cooperation with Africa and is now encouraging investments and commercial grants.
“Grants are now minimal. If we depend on grants, industrialisation and agriculture modernisation will never happen. We are encouraging investments and commercial loans.
“The agreement between China and African countries is about $50 billion and 91.7 percent are investments and commercial loans. Only one percent are grants,” said Lin.
He further said more than 250 agreements have been signed already and if Malawi wants, it can benefit from that fund for infrastructure development.
In October last year, President Peter Mutharika announced new round of cooperation with China amounting to $1.5 billion (about K1 trillion, at the current exchange rate).
The cooperation will result in increasing power generation capacity by 300 megawatts (MW) and the construction of a modern Chileka International Airport within three years.
Out of the seven projects pledged, only three are grants totaling $58 million (K42 billion) for the construction of Blantyre District Hospital and Cancer Centre in Blantyre
The hospital is set to be built at Kameza on the site where the abandoned Muammar Gaddafi Hospital Project was.
Lin advised Malawi government to create a conducive environment for investors. n