Malawi is poised to benefit from a $1 billion (about K733 billion) fund from African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to support the establishment of industrial parks and export processing zones (EPZs).
Speaking during the opening of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Industralisation Week on Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa, Afreximbank senior manager for Intra-Africa Trade Initiative Gainmore Zanamwe explained that the fund assists African countries in their efforts to promote agro-processing centres and light manufacturing industries to increase intra-region trade in the Sadc trade bloc.
An industrial park is an area zoned and planned for industrial development whereas as EPZs are areas that offer incentives and a barrier-free environment to promote economic growth by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) for export-oriented production.
In his speech, Zanamwe said Afreximbank, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt and finances and promotes intra and extra Africa trade, believes that increasing intra-Sadc trade could help countries such as Malawi to overcome the challenge of declining global commodity prices, especially agricultural products such as tobacco, tea and cotton which the country exports unprocessed.
He said: “By reducing dependency on exports of raw commodities to international markets and instead adding value to products that are on demand in the region, Sadc countries, including Malawi can generate higher export revenues and create employment opportunities,” he said.
In an interview on the sidelines of the meeting, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said the initiative by Afreximbank presents an opportunity for Malawi to develop its industrial and export sectors which are key to economic development.
In view of this, he said MCCCI will mobilise the private sector to explore ways of implementing projects under Afreximbank’s industrialisation initiative in areas which the Government of Malawi designated for the development of industrial parks and EPZs.
“Afreximbank’s initiative provides financing, trade facilitation and other technical assistance. There is an opportunity to integrate existing government initiatives, including the community colleges programme into the planning of Malawi’s industralisation initiative to ensure that the private sector absorbs the skills being developed into the various industries,” said Kaferapanjira. n