Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba has said the African Development Bank (AfDB) portfolio (an aggregation of concession loans, grants and budget support) in Malawi is now valued at $1.2 billion (about K480 billion), including regional operations such as the Nacala Road Corridor Development Project.
The Tunis-based bank has been supporting Malawi’s development efforts since the year 1969.
Speaking during the celebrations of the bank’s 50th anniversary and 45 years of development cooperation with Malawi on Tuesday at the Bingu International Conference Center (Bicc), Mkwezalamba said here in Malawi, the bank has been providing support to various sectors and thematic areas such as health, agriculture, irrigation, water, transport, education as well as public finance management .
“Similarly, the bank has made valuable contribution to our macroeconomic stabilisation and structural reform efforts through its budget support, lending and grants,” he said.
Mkwezalamba also said over the years, support has also been directed towards job creation to improve the capabilities and the competitiveness of the private sector and increase export diversification which he said are key to creating enabling business environment and private of growth in Malawi.
The finance minister also said the bank has also provided support to irrigation which has helped over 11 000 beneficiary farm families engaged in sugar out grower schemes and increase food production.
He said the bank also continues support in the water and sanitation sector through the national water sanitation programme.
Such a support, according to Mkwezalamba, has already started realising intended results with over 520 000 people accessing clean water, and 230 000 having access to improved sanitation facilities in the target areas.
On regional integration, Mkwezalamba said in 2013 the bank approved loans and grants totaling $73 million to finance the Nacala road corridor development phase four, linking Malawi to Zambia, Mozambique, including the rehabilitation of the roads and the construction of one stop border post on the borders of the two countries.
“The bank has been highly responsive to Malawi needs. This is demonstrated by the record time in which the bank’s crisis response to budget support for the amount of $45 million was approved under the stability and social protection exercise for Malawi programme in 2012,” he said .
In 2012, Malawi’s economy was gripped by a tough macroeconomic environment characterised by depletion of foreign exchange reserves, shortage of raw materials, fuel and essential imports and an overall economic slowdown.
Recently, AfDB unveiled a country strategy paper covering period 2013 to 2017 which is anchored on infrastructure, private sector investment and trade and reflecting the bank’s ten year strategy.
According to AfDB Country Representative for Malawi Andrew Mwaba, the strategy for Malawi is fully aligned to the country’s second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) and also the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).