Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has asked governments to improve judicial, education and health systems if the 53-member grouping of former British colonies is to increase investment opportunities.
Sharma was speaking yesterday at the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum, a prelude to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) taking place in Valleta, Malta, an island State on the Mediterranean Sea with a population of about 450 000.
The Commonwealth Business Forum this year is meeting under the theme Adding Global Value, Creating a Prosperous Commonwealth.
With 2.2 billion citizens, the Commonwealth had a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $9.6 trillion in 2013 and 4.1 percent growth in the last two years, according to data made available at the meeting.
In his remarks, Sharma said the statistics were a great opportunity for the grouping to improve access for investment because by 2020, the membership grouping will have one billion middle class consumers.
He said many companies within and outside the Commonwealth were willing to invest in countries such as Malawi, but impediments like company registration processes and trade financing were frustrating them.
Said Sharma: “Commonwealth members need to work on judicial systems, education and training systems and even climate change mitigation because these are components of business and investment development.
“We are saying we want to advance the Commonwealth global value. That must be in its totality and the Commonwealth should be able to deliver on that.”
In the last World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, Malawi registered some improvement perhaps due to the introduction of a one-stop centre to reduce the number of days needed to register a business as well as improving the handling of business related cases in the courts through the Commercial Division of the High Court of Malawi.
Meanwhile, Malawi has become a founding partner of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council which Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamvekha said was an opportunity for the country to position itself within the Commonwealth business sector.
Malawi will now have access to the council’s consultancy services including advice on market entry , business development and government relations.
President Peter Mutharika will today take part in a panel discussion on the business of health: improving access and outcomes.
On Thursday, the President is expected to sell business opportunities to potential investors hot on the heels of the launch of the business compendium earlier this year. It is this presentation which he will take to London for the Global Investment Summit concentrating on investing for future generations.