President Peter Mutharika says the $12 million (K9 billion) Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory at Raiply Malawi Limited in Mzimba District will help to create jobs and spur socio-economic growth.
Speaking after opening the factory on Saturday, the President said the factory will also generate foreign exchange and help boost the economy through taxes.
“The Raiply factory will transform the economic landscape of this region. I have been informed that the EPZ factory utilises various left-overs from the parent factory to transform them into valuable quality products.
“This is commendable not only because it saves on our foreign exchange, but also because it maximises on the utilisation of our natural resources,” said Mutharika.
He said the inauguration of the factory is a fulfilment of his administration’s effort to woo investors who can produce export quality products, stressing that foreign investors will make government realise its dream of transforming the nation from an importing and consuming country to a producing and exporting one.
“This Raiply EPZ comes at a time my government projected to narrow the trade deficit by 7.8 percent this year from 10.9 percent in 2014.
“We are making progress, we are reducing imports and increasing exports. We want to sell more outside and buy less,” said Mutharika.
He said government will continue to provide a conducive environment for the smooth operation of th e private sector, citing the recent World Bank Doing Buisness Index, which
ranked Malawi as the topmost reformer in Africa and number 10 in the world.
Malawi moved 23 steps up the ladder to 110 from 133 last year out of 190 economies on the 2018 World Bank Doing Business Index.
Mutharika said the economy is now stable, adding that all economic fundamentals are supportive of any investment.
On power outages, which affect productivity of investors negatively, the President assured that government is working on both short-term and long-term solutions, pledging that the challenge will be dealt with.
He said: “As a country, we are paying the cost of neglecting the energy sector for many years. My job is to reverse this situation. And we are almost there. The situation should improve by end of next month [December].
“The challenges we face are temporary, but our solutions are permanent.”
Mutharika urged communities around the factory to own the multimillion kwacha facility to continue maximising its benefits by among other things refraining from acts of vandalism and theft.
In his remaks, Raiply Malawi Limited chief executive officer Krishna Das said much as the company performs better, it suffers encroachment and bush fires, among other challenges.
“It is our estimate that over 2 100 hectares has been encroached or illegally harvested and is now totally bare,” he said.
To reverse the situation, he said his company and Department of Forestry have teamed up to plant trees in degraded areas.
Paramount Chief M’mbelwa V of the Jere Ngoni said the new factory has changed the landscape of the region with benefits such as employment and proper management of forests.
Meanwhile, the company is processing export quality products such as fireboards which were previously imported from China. This means money that was used to import these products will be saved in view of the import substitition initiative.
Raiply Malawi Limited and Raiply EPZ Limited belong to a group of companies operating in eastern and southern African countries headquartered in Kenya.