Every year many professional associations in the country hold annual conferences at resorts along the southern shores of Lake Malawi in Mangochi.
Through the conferences, the groupings reflect on emerging trends in their respective fields of expertise and how they can move forward.
In recent years, many of the associations have tended to broaden their scope beyond their profession and attempted to use their skills to tackle or provide solutions to some issues affecting the economy. This is reflected in themes touching on seeking solutions to national issues from professional perspectives.
For example, two weeks ago the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) held its annual conference under the theme Reengineering The Future Through Innovation, Research and Development.
This evening, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam), the successor of the Society of Accountants in Malawi (Socam), is opening its annual lake conference which from the Socam days has always been billed as “the biggest”.
From the theme, Transforming Economic Fortunes: Seizing Opportunities Within Malawi and the African Region, one sees a professional grouping bent on adding value to national endeavours by outlining what ought to be done, for example, to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI). Can that be achieved through a review of some taxes? Provision of incentives? It will be interesting to learn what will be the way forward at the end of the day.
Next on the line-up are Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama), Financial Market Dealers Association of Malawi (Fimda) and Institute of People Management (IPMM).
Fimda is focusing on Financial Markets and Productive Efficiency in the 21st Century whereas Ecama’s theme is Agricultural Transformation and Value Chain: Development for Sustainable Development.
Last weekend, the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Malawi Chapter hosted its conference under the theme Staying Ahead of Competition. Vice-President Saulos Chilima, an economist by training and accomplished marketer by profession, delivered a keynote address in which he challenged marketers to promote “brand Malawi”, among others.
I have attended some of the annual lake conferences. Many of them have become must-attend events. They are platforms for professionals to unwind and recharge as well as for growth.
But, to some extent, sometimes the conferences, described as “sponsored holidays” by some, are talking shops where people outdo each other on who can cry the loudest with little or no way forward. Where there is one, usually the road map is not clear.
Take CIM Malawi Chapter’s ‘Brand Malawi’ campaign for example. For a year or two, the organisation has been talking about it. We heard about it last year, during the conference, and heard about the same again this year. In fact, Chilima raised a gentle reminder on the campaign. It is like the promotion exists only in the conference room.
Malawi is beset with scores of problems which professionals can help solve. It is, therefore, important for professional organisations to give road maps on how resolutions from their meetings fit in the theme and towards national development in particular. In that way, I believe some value will be realised from the conferences.
Wishing all delegates fruitful deliberations