An official from the directorate general for international cooperation in the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said Malawi has a long way to go before being independent of aid because it is landlocked and has poor infrastructure.
Co-chairperson for the 9th steering committee meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), Jeroen Verheuel, held in Lilongwe this week, said aid is not good for Malawi but the country is not ready to stop depending on it.
He said more needs to be done to grow the economy to make the country independent of aid and improve its economy.
“Malawi should stop depending on aid, but this is not possible now because the infrastructure is poor and the country is landlocked, making it tough to connect to the outside developed world.
“This country has huge potential, especially in agricultural produce and aquaculture, but more needs to be done to value add the products so that they can compete favourably with other products from the developed world,” said Verheuel.
He singled out macadamia nuts and chambo fish as some of the products that Malawi can easily sell to European Union (EU) countries if value addition was properly done. “Malawi produces quality macadamia nuts, but for the nuts to enter the European market with ease there is need for world class value addition.
“Even chambo, is one of the most succulent fish in the world and yet not many people in Europe know about it. Deliberate measures must be put in place to make sure that the outside world knows Malawi’s potential,” said Verheuel.
Malawi has for the past two years been implementing its budget without direct budget support which was frozen in November 2013 due to concerns of Cashgate, the looting of public funds at Capital Hill. Donors are currently channelling their through non-governmental organisations.
An official from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who also co-chaired the meeting, TadeoBerjonMolinares, concurred with Verheuel that Malawi has potential to wean itself from aid, but more needs to be done to achieve that.
“What we have learnt from Malawi is that with commitment everything is possible. This country has immense potential and we are happy that we have learnt one or two things on how some things can be done even with fewer resources,” he said.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said Malawi will work hard to increase production of legumes and value addition to some of its agricultural products.
“If we can combine our mineral and agricultural resources and value add within a short period of time we can beat other countries within the region doing much better than us. What we need is just to play our cards right,” he said.
Malawi, Mexico and Holland are the current co-chairs of GPEDC, which brings together governments, the private sector and the civil society to ensure that policy makes maximum impact for development.