Malawi’s investment flows have slowed in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as businesses across the globe have been disrupted, the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) has said.
Mitc figures indicate that in the first quarter of 2020, the centre issued investment certificates to seven companies, representing 59 percent decline compared to the corresponding period last year.
Mitc public relations manager Deliby Chimbalu, in a written response on Wednesday, said the global spread of the virus has led to a downward trend of investors coming into Malawi to register their investments.
She said: “In the first quarter of 2020, we have only managed to issue investment certificates to seven new companies that are interested to invest in manufacturing, tourism, agro-processing and telecommunication sectors.
“This is lower compared to what we recorded in 2019 during the same period when we managed to issue investment certificates to about 17 new companies.”
Chimbalu, however, said Mitc has put in place measures to ensure business continuity in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said all investment opportunities in form of projects have been uploaded on Mitc website for easy access, adding that their investment promotion team is readily available to provide business support to all investment enquiries via online platforms like the website and e-mails and even phone calls.
Speaking in an interview, Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kaluwa observed that Malawi would suffer a double blow in its quest to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in view of the pandemic amid a hostile political environment which scares investors.
He said: “FDIs to Malawi will indeed not be easy in the times where business has been disrupted globally in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The political impasse in this country, on the other hand, also makes things worse as no investor would comfortably invest in a country with political uncertainties.”
Meanwhile, a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) Investment Monitor for April 2020 rated Malawi among countries in Africa with the lowest levels of FDI and advised the country to consider liberalising measures in various industries so as to ease entry barriers for investors.
According to the report, serving customers online should be crucial at this time and focus should be reducing the regulatory and institutional burden to attract FDIs.
Available figures show that in 2018, Malawi raked in $102 million (about K75 billion) in FDIs, an increase from $90 million (about K67 billion) in 2017, but a decline from 2016’s $116 million (about K86 billion) and $510 million (about K377 billion) in 2015. n