Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa says the country will not hold the third Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) this year to pave the way for an assessment and review of outstanding issues from previous forums.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe Monday on his trip to the United Kingdom (UK) where he held different trade and investment meetings with various potential international investors, the minister said the 2015 and 2016 investment forums generated a lot of interests with a number of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for investment in various sectors signed.
However, he said most of the proposed deals were yet to be concluded.
Said Mussa: “In view of the outstanding issues from the previous forums, we have asked for nine months from now to tie up all loose ends to avoid duplication of efforts. We want to package the projects well and the forum will be back next year.”
Seven companies signed MoUs during the 2016 MIF while the one held in 2015 yielded deals and MoUs worth $1 billion (about K734 billion).
On the outcome of his UK trip where he was accompanied by Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (Mitc) chief executive officer Clement Kubemba, Mussa said a number of investors showed interest in Malawi.
He said: “Most, if not all, of those we met are very committed and eager to visit Malawi and explore further the investment and business opportunities that we presented to them during the meetings.”
During the four-day trip, the Malawi delegation held 15 meetings with various institutions and individuals who the minister said expressed interest to do business with Malawi.
He mentioned a Malawi Investor Roundtable Meeting as one of the key meetings which sought to market the country’s investment and trade opportunities and learn what UK investors consider as challenges to invest in Malawi.
“The investors cited difficulties to access Malawi due to lack of direct flights from UK/Europe, poor energy supply making it more costly to operate in Malawi and Malawi’s poor visibility,” said Mussa.
He said the delegation assured the investors that Malawi was working hard to rectify such challenges, mentioning rehabilitation and expansions of airports, road network construction and opening up the energy sector to more players.
Commenting on the progress made on the follow ups on the previous MIF platforms, Mitc public relations officer Deliby Chimbalu said most of the previous investment deals have been assessed and it is estimated that nine months will be enough to finalise them.
She said: “This rescheduling will give us time as Mitc and the ministry to prepare projects that are ready with full information. Sometimes projects were submitted without proper information which affected implementation as we had to go back and look for more details thereby affecting investments because it took time.”
Chimbalu said they are currently in the process of assessing the projects to be presented to potential investors at the next forum where some will be from the previous compendium.
The 2016 investment compendium, launched in October 2016, presented investment opportunities for 118 bankable projects in various sectors in the country.
A structural plan by Mitc projects shows that the country’s investment opportunities are set to rise to $15 billion with increased export earnings to $4.9 billion by 2019 as well as creation of 650 000 direct and indirect jobs. n