About 30 percent of foreign delegates to the 41st Sadc Summit to be held in Lilongwe from August 17 and 18 will not physically attend the meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Director of information Chikumbutso Mtumodzi confirmed the development in a response to a questionnaire, saying this will affect economic gains the hospitality industry would have derived from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Summit.
During the ordinary Sadc summit of heads of State and government, President Lazarus Chakwera will be inaugurated as chairperson of the 16-member States organisation.
Mtumodzi, who is also chairperson of media and publicity for the Sadc Summit organising committee, said: “Because of Covid-19, the summit will be 70 percent physical and 30 percent virtual. In short, it will be a hybrid in which about 50 or 70 percent of the expected delegates will physically attend.
“As usual, such events benefit the [host country] a lot in terms of business in the tourism and transport sectors. However, the fact that the meeting will be hybrid means that businesses will not benefit much.”
The director of information said the Sadc secretariat signaled that Malawi was ready for the summit.
“The Sadc secretariat was in Malawi last week to appraise the preparations and inspect hotels and conferencing venues and they went back satisfied,” he said.
Mtumodzi further pointed out other benefits of hosting the meeting which will be preceded by Meetings of the Standing Committee of Senior officials and Council of Ministers.
“The summit will also spur the notion of regional integration which is a necessary virtue for our country. Malawi will be the spotlight of regional community development which promotes the local industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lilongwe City Council has asked residents, organisations and the business community operating in the city to paint their buildings and operate in designated places during the summit.
The city’s mayor Juliana Kaduya said this in a press statement issued on Tuesday.
The summit, which was last held in Malawi in August 2013, will run under the theme ‘Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of Covid-19 Pandemic: For Sustainable Economic Transformation.’