Development experts have called for prioritisation of infrastructure development in the National Transformation 2063 to enable the country achieve quick economic wins.
Speaking on Friday in Lilongwe at a two-day national development conference organised by the National Planning Commission (NPC), the experts argued that the cost of doing business is high due to existing poor infrastructure that also lacks proper coordination.
Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kaluwa said the country’s road and information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure require urgent upgrading if businesses are to thrive.
He was one of the panellists discussing economic infrastructure, ICT, transport and energy, which are touted as critical enablers for economic transformation.
Said Kaluwa: “As we chart the new vision, let us priotise infrastructure development. Malawi has poor infrastructure because leaders are not enforcing standards.
“The infrastructure is reflective of the state of the nation and currently it is not supporting economic growth.”
On his part, Institute of Higher Education, Science and Technology project coordinator Ignacio Ngoma called for the upgrading of roads to ensure well managed investment space and to decongest the country’s cities.
He said if Malawi is to compete with its neighbours, it has to prioritise on long-term high standard infrastructure.
Ministry of Transport and Public Works director of policy and planning Madalo Nyambose said in line with the long-term vision, the ministry is implementing the Transport Master Plan, which will enable implementation of high-value infrastructure.
Malawi’s transport cost is one of the highest in the Southern African Development Community region, according the United Nations Economic Report for Africa.
The UN indicates that Malawi’s transport sector accounts for 56 percent of landed transport costs and 30 percent of export costs, thereby increasing the cost of imported goods and hurting the country’s regional trade competitiveness.
One of the NPC commissioners Phillip Madinga, who is head of personal and business banking at Standard Bank plc, said they were satisfied with the outcome of the conference and endorsement of the long-term vision.