The country’s transport sector has grown at a snail’s pace over the past five years due to a number of challenges, a Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II) has shown.
Transport experts say an efficient transportation system is one of the drivers of economic growth and development for the country, which ought to provide better connectivity to local, regional and international markets, reduce cost of production and marketing of goods and services.
Being landlocked, the country’s transport infrastructure and services are recognised as key drivers of economic growth and poverty reduction.
However, during the five-year period that MGDS II has been operational, the sector failed to register meaningful growth with Malawi’s transport costs remaining among the highest in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.
Malawi is served by four transport modes, namely road, rail, lake and air.
According to the MGDS II review and country situation analysis report by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, the state of Malawi’s national transport infrastructure has been characterised by inadequate road networks, unexploited and inadequate access to ports, inadequate air links, and inadequate freight and rail capacity.
The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Business Climate Survey 2016 shows that transport infrastructure systems continue to pose challenges to doing business with a score of 6.2 out of 10.
Ministry of Transport and Public Works spokesperson James Chakwera, in an e-mailed response, said while lack of resources have continued to hinder the development of the sector, the country’s geographical position has put Malawi at the mercy of other countries in accessing the sea.
“Lack of resources has hindered the development of the transport sector infrastructure as it is capital intensive and is not easy to mobilise the required resources.
“However, government is banking on public private partnerships as one way of developing the corridors, “he said.
Chakwera said the rising costs of transport is a function of many things such as road or rail condition that add into operational costs, price of fuel, distance to the sea and cost of capital for equipment. n