Ministry of Industry and Trade has challenged local manufacturers to rise to the occasion by engaging in import substitution amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that has affected regional and global trade.
Globally, most countries have initiated a lockdown that is affecting trade and movement of people as one way of containing the spread of Covid-19.
In an interview on Monday, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Ken Ndala said local manufacturers have opportunity to produce for the local market, especially when the raw materials are sourced locally.
He said: “For those producing products using locally-sourced raw materials, this is an advantage to them to supply products in our shops.
We anticipate that existing products supplies from elsewhere may run out and local manufacturers should rise to the occasion with supplies.
“Covid-19 gives them an opportunity to probably expand their businesses. It is an opportunity for the public to have a taste of their products if they are of high quality.”
Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises executive secretary James Chiutsi said in an interview on Tuesday that Malawi imports horticultural products from South Africa, and the current situation is a chance for Malawian businesses to seize the opportunity.
He said: “It has also been a challenge to compete with foreign products due to quality issues or price differences.
“Some people would not know the quality of home-based products, so this is an opportunity for local businesses to showcase their quality on the market.”
Parliamentary Committee on Industry and Trade chairperson Simplex Chithyola Banda said some local manufacturers are already benefiting, especially those in pharmaceutical production such as hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and soap.
Catholic University economist Gilbert Kachamba said the opportunity arises when the local manufacturing industry becomes more innovative to produce using locally available raw materials, which can lead to the flourishing of the local manufacturing industry.
Since Covid-19 was first reported in China last December, it has spread to almost all countries in the world, affecting businesses and way of living.
Malawi is yet to record any positive case of Covid-19.