China-Africa Cotton, owners of Malawi Cotton Company, has invested $80 million (K58 billion) in the construction of a textile factory in Salima which is expected to boost textile exports and create 1 500 jobs.
In an interview on Friday, China-Africa Cotton deputy general manager Zhoo Zhixing said the project, which started last year, is expected to be completed mid 2018.
“We will complete the project in two phases in which the first phase will comprise acquisition of $18 million [K13 billion] machinery and equipment, $3 million [K2 billion] building materials [for the steel-structure factory], $1 million [K733 million] for motor vehicles and plants, $3 million for furniture and fittings while $15 million [K10 billion] will be used as working capital for operation of the spinning factory.
“The second phase will be the setting up of weaving, printing and dying and towel making factories,” he said.
Zhoo said the factory will have the capacity to use over 15 000 tonnes of lint per year; hence, it will be important for the country to enhance cotton output from the 10 000 tonnes realised in 2016/17 growing season to avert importation of lint from neighbouring countries.
He said the factory will need 5 000 kilowatts (Kw) of electricity to operate.
Zhoo, therefore, called upon government to help in granting the company tax exemption, restrict cotton lint exports and provide work permit for some its employees, among other issues.
Commenting on the development, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said the project will help to realise government’s dream of turning the country into a net exporter.
“Government has been talking about the need for the country to export more if we are to develop and the factory will help Malawi earn foreign exchange instead of selling lint to other countries which is basically exporting jobs,” he said.
He said the private sector should strive to add value to the country’s produce to prompt economic development and not export raw materials.
Over the past seven years, the country’s cotton output has dropped by about 80 percent from a record output of 100 000 tonnes in 2010 which was pushed by the K2 billion cotton fund which government extended to the cotton ginners. n