Government has granted African Institute for Development Policy (Afidep) diplomatic status as part of its commitment towards support regional development bodies and making Malawi a regional development hub.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka and Afidep Malawi office head Professor Nyovani Madise signed the Order of Recognition under the Immunities and Privileges Act in Lilongwe on Monday.
Commenting on this milestone for the institute, Afidep executive director Dr. Eliya Zulu, who attended the ceremony virtually, said the institute was honoured to be granted the Order of Recognition by the Government of Malawi.
He said: “Afidep has had an enduring relationship with Malawi, from supporting the Malawi Government to advocate for the designation of harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in youth as the 2017 African Union top development theme to supporting Parliament in drafting autonomy bills.
“We have also worked closely with the ministries of Gender, Health, Education and Economic Planning on a wide range of issues including ending child marriages, making family planning and other health services universally accessible, Covid-19 response, basic education reforms, and cost-benefit analysis to determine interventions likely to maximise returns to investment towards the achievement of Vision 2063. We are grateful for this gesture by the government, and we look forward to intensifying our partnership with the Government of Malawi and other development stakeholders.”
The recognition aligns with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ efforts to promote a supportive and enabling environment for international development partnerships and investment in Malawi in line with the country’s new development blueprint, the Malawi Vision 2063.
Addressing the press at the signing ceremony, Mkaka said government granted Afidep diplomatic status to enable them to work in the country under special privileges.
Said the minister: “Their work–centred on research, sharing information and evidence in different areas–helps provide support to the government in making evidence-based decisions. The government will benefit a lot from Afidep.”
He said his ministry and government are committed to proactively attract more international organisations of Afidep’s calibre to make Malawi a critical regional hub for intellectual discourses to find solutions to addressing Africa’s pervasive development challenges.
Mkaka explained: “Increasing the number of such international organisations will undoubtedly help create more quality jobs, increase foreign exchange earnings, expand the purchasing power in the country, increase the government’s access to and use of robust evidence and development technical assistance, and enhance the visibility of the country in the global development community.”
On her part, Madise commended government for the gesture, saying it represents a significant symbolic and direct financial contribution to research and evidence use for the country and the entire African continent.
“The diplomatic status will go a long way in enabling Afidep attract global and local development policy experts, which is vital for the institute grow into a first-class policy and research think-tank set to make evidence count in transforming lives not only in Malawi but across Africa,” she said.
Following the Recognition Order, Afidep board of directors have resolved to relocate the institute’s headquarters from Nairobi, Kenya to Lilongwe, Malawi. However, the Kenya office will continue to operate as the institute’s regional hub for Eastern Africa.
Afidep has supported the Malawian government’s efforts in policy formulation and evidence use for over 11 years. The African-led, regional non-profit research policy institute was established in 2010 to help bridge the gaps between research, policy and practice in development efforts in Africa.
It is registered as a non-profit institution in the United States of America (with 501(c)3 status) and as a non-governmental organisation in Kenya and Malawi, with a mandate to work across Africa.