In this interview with our reporter JACOB NANKHONYA, the African Union (AU) regional delegate to Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Dr. Auguste Ngomo comments on the political and socio-economic situation in Malawi as the country clocks 53 years of independence next month. Excerpts:
How do you see the political, socio-economic situation in Malawi after 53 years?
Economy is slow, the private sector stagnant, political situation is tense with no confidence among all the stakeholders working towards achieving development of Malawi and there is absence of focus at all levels.
How can this situation be fixed?
By fixing the economy, the political tension will be reduced, subsequently the political debate will be more constructive. Politically the different actors should agree on a minimum common area of focus that they will not change with the change of government. Something like a national action plan.
An Afrobarometer survey released on May 30 shows nine out of every 10 Malawians believe the country is headed in the wrong direction in terms of handling of major policy issues, what is your opinion?
I have read this survey. I do not fully agree with it because; all Malawians should not only speak politics but they should go back to work. It is not nice speeches, good skills development programmes etc which will change the country’s reality. It is work, innovation, business and trade.
Malawians are known as hardworkers. How can they meaningfuly work to bring real change in the country?
It is by doing serious profitable businesses that would create jobs for other people. In fact the African Union is implementing a programme to that effect. Through the theme of the year: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, African Union- Southern African Regional Office (AU-SARO) is presenting to all Southern Member States one unique youth Initiative: 100 youth in real business every year. Business, trade will enrich people and provide work for a lot of us. Let the majority of our society, the youth who represent over 36 percent of the Malawian population, start, develop and make profitable real business.
Why are you using the word ‘real business’ in the youth initiative? What do you mean by real business?
We call real business all the businesses which by their nature and essence have huge potential of development and success and a huge potential of recruitment of people. This initiative will not manage with shops, beauty salos, groceries or anything within that range but rather more creative business plans with potential of employing other people.
What is the objective of the initiative and its impact in an economy?
This youth initiative aims to inject voluntary and intentionally 100 middle-small and middle business in the private sector. If we maintain this programme for 5 years, we will have 500 new businesses in Malawi. But for different reasons, the mortality of new business is very high, so we should have a specific programme to protect, groom them and support them Up to the time the risk is over, say, around 3 or 4 years.
By injecting this volume of new businesses, we will automatically generate more jobs and create a more dynamic private sector. Expected impacts are more business opportunities, creation and development of a new high class of business men and women at national and regional level, more opportunities of external growth for the existing firms, seeing the regional trade integration like an opportunity and not a trade and more tax for the national budget. As you can see this initiative has multiple impacts than just giving a job to the youth.
But Malawi already has a lot of different youth initiatives, how different is the AU initiative?
All the youth initiatives that aim to promote youth in business have like all these components: selection, training, mentoring and financing.
The youth initiative has the additional or specific components such as special and direct mentoring, special state advantages monitoring through award and business/trade support platform.