Civil society organisations (CSOs) have said courting investors to Malawi remains a daunting task even for President Peter Mutharika unless the country fixes significant challenges, including electricity blackouts and growing corruption.
The CSOs expressed their sentiments in reaction to an announcement that the President will set out to woo investors during his three-week trip to England from tomorrow where he will, among others, attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emmanuel Fabiano said the President will attend a three-day Chogm in London from next Monday before proceeding to Scotland for a four-day visit from April 22.
But Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence said in an interview the goal of attracting investors as mere rhetoric.
He said: “We are worried with the rhetoric because this is not the first time for Mutharika to say he is going to woo investors so that they come and invest in the country. Apparently, there are no serious investors who have come in Malawi to invest because of the environment we are in.”
Trapence said the persistent blackouts in the country are a primary reason deterring potential investors from coming to invest into the country.
He said: “We do not have the environment which can entice foreign investors. We need to deal away with these blackouts and seriously curb corruption first before enticing people to come and do their businesses in the country.”
Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka concurred with Trapence, saying at the moment, the nation is lacking the necessary resources which can seduce investors to plant their businesses in the country.
He said: “We have recently noted that the Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, made strong appeals in India for investors to come in Malawi. Despite holding such appeals, the question of [intermittent] energy still becomes a dilemma. We need to first of all look at whether we have a favourable environment.”
During the briefing, Fabiano said after attending the Chogm meeting, whose theme will be Towards a Common Future, Mutharika is expected to hold bilateral talks with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and address the Scottish Parliament.
He added that the President will also address Malawians living in the diaspora.
In 2015 and 2016, Malawi held the Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) which was highly touted as a platform to woo investors. Mutharika opened the first MIF, but to date, only 15 out of 193 projects are taking shape.