Malawi Government in collaboration with the Tunis-based African Development Bank (AfDB) on Monday launched a Competitiveness and Job Creation Support Project (CJCSP) which is expected to create 2 000 new jobs over its five-year lifespan.
The project, to be bankrolled by AfDB to the tune of $15 million (about K4.2 billion), also aims to promote export diversification.
Speaking during launch of the project in Salima, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade Nebert Nyirenda said government hopes that the initiative will improve economic growth, export diversification apart from creating jobs.
Nyirenda said the project consists of five-sub-components of capacity building for private sector, entrepreneurship skills development, development of strategic value chains, access to finance of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and project management.
â€œThe project will support stakeholders in the pigeon pea and soya beans value chains thereby creating 2 000 new employment opportunities in the sectors and improve incomes of 20 000 stakeholders,â€ said Nyirenda.
Farmers will be targeted in 10 districts of Mzimba, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Dowa, Lilongwe rural, Dedza, Zomba rural, Chiradzulu, Thyolo and Mulanje.
The project will benefit 20 000 existing and 5 000 new pulses farmers; and 40 000 old and 10 000 new edible oil farmers.
He said despite the far reaching contribution to Malawiâ€™s economy, MSMEs are beset by a number of constraints such as a weak entrepreneurial culture, a lack of access to capital and outdated legal and regulatory frameworks.
Nyirenda stressed that the project is meant to empower people to engage in sustainable economic and productive activities.
â€œMy expectation is, therefore, that this project will be able to uplift the livelihood of our citizens,â€ he said.
He, however, admitted that the success of the project will demand that a favourable business environment be created so that the private sector can perform â€œwithout excessive interferenceâ€.
On his part, AfDB resident representative Andrew Mwaba said the project is designed to enhance the skills of Malawians for improved employability, job creation, competitiveness of the private sector and poverty reduction.
He said the project will also foster export diversification by increasing the percentage of non-traditional exports in total exports by four percent and as such, reduce the countryâ€™s reliance on tobacco.
â€œI would like to call on all stakeholders in the implementation of this project to learn from experiences of other bank supported projects. Issues of rules and procedures, financial management, procurement, monitoring and evaluation should be comprehensively discussed to start the implementation of the project on a good platform,â€ said Mwaba.
The launch will be followed by a technical launch later which will provide an opportunity to all stakeholders to learn and discuss key issues that affect implementation of the project.