Malawi government has said it is committed to bring back investor confidence in the economy through the implementation of ‘business-friendly’ policies.
Minister of Industry and Trade Sosten Gwengwe was reacting to a Nation Online query on the outcome of the Malawi-Kenya business forum held last week in Lilongwe on the sidelines of Kenya President Mwayi Kibaki’s visit to Malawi.
During the business forum, attended by high profile Malawi business captains, chief executive officers from prominent private sector institutions in Malawi and their counterparts from Kenya, some participants stressed that unless Malawi creates a conducive business environment, attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) will still remain a far-fetched dream.
Gwengwe acknowledged the need to create a long-term business environment despite the country currently experiencing one of the worst macro-economic challenges.
“Government is committed to restoring investor confidence through implementation of sound economic policies and reforms,” he assured.
Malawi is facing a tough macroeconomic environment characterised by high interest rates, a relative shortage of foreign currency, continued power supply interruptions, among others, which international experts including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believe is frustrating foreign investment into the landlocked nation.
Last year, the country slipped six places from 151 to 157 out of 185 global economies on the 2013 World Bank Doing Business index which means that foreign investors willing to invest in Malawi have first to consider sampling 156 countries globally.
But Gwengwe said Malawi boasts of policies that are investor-friendly and assured all potential investors of maximum protection for their respective investments.
Malawi has investment policies that are liberal and, as such, provides for freedom to invest in any sector, investor protection, foreign exchange repatriation and equal treatment for both domestic and foreign investors, said the minister.
Gwengwe cited four main sectors namely; agriculture, mining, energy and tourism as having potential for investment at present.
In agriculture, the minister said food production is critical to food security and investment, adding that the sector provides opportunities in agro-processing and infrastructure such as modern storage facilities and in irrigation technology to enhance productivity.