President Peter Mutharika says African countries, including Malawi, need trusted and strong partners such as Russia to actualise their development potential.
In his address to a Plenary Session of the Russia-Africa Economic Summit at the Sirius Park for Science and Art in Sochi, Russia yesterday, the President said Malawi and other African countries are endowed with natural resources such as minerals, lakes, rivers and mountains which form great investment potential.
In this regard, Mutharika said time has come “for Russia to do what history has failed” and set Africa on a new economic balance of scales and give Africans the dignity they deserve.
He said: “We must bring to an end Africa’s history of exploitation. Africa can best contribute to the world if we create good conditions of production. We cannot trade with the world if we do not produce goods. Therefore, Africa must industrialise.”
The President said countries such as Russia should look to Africa as a production point of the world.
He said: “We have sufficient land and mineral resources, water bodies and labour forces of 1.2 billion people. Our labour force shall be your labour force and our markets shall be your markets as one way for us to create jobs for all our people.”
While sharing Malawi’s vision of transforming from a predominantly consuming and importing nation to a producing and exporting economy, Mutharika said Malawi is on the road to industrialisation.
“This strategy Russia has tried and prevailed, in the words of President [Vladimir] Putin, the goal is to ensure sustainable progress and development of our economy and shield our citizens from hardships.
“In order to achieve this, we focus on agriculture, industrialisation, energy, ICT infrastructure and mining among other sectors. These are priorities outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy number three,” he said in a prepared speech made available to The Nation by State House Press Office.
Mutharika also courted Russian financial institutions to finance Malawi’s national priority sectors for the benefit of both countries. He also invited investors in sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing, ICT, infrastructure, transport, energy, security, mines, tourism, education, health and manufacturing.
On Wednesday, the President held a one-on-one meeting with Putin at the Sirius Park of Science and Art.
Mutharika’s speech on industrialising Malawi and Africa comes few months after the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (Unctad) Economic Development in Africa Report showed that Malawi is at 38.3 percent, the 10th leading intra-Africa exporter with Zimbabwe, Uganda, Togo Senegal, Djibouti, Lesotho and Kenya having the larger share.
The two-day event attracted more than 3 000 delegates from across Russia and Africa to discuss an array of topics including mineral extraction. All 54 African States were represented with 43 Heads of State and Government in attendance.
Putin on Wednesday opened the first ever Russia-African Economic Summit which aims to discuss politics and business.
He told the African leaders that Russia exports to Africa $25 billion (over K18 trillion) worth of food.
“This is more than what the country exports in arms which is $15 billion [about K11 trillion]. In the next four to five years, we should be able to double this trade,” Putin said.
Besides military and security cooperation with Africa, Putin pledged Russian commitment to combat the Ebola virus with aid and increase the number of African students to Russian universities, among others.
Mutharika is accompanied by Cabinet ministers Joseph Mwanamvekha (Finance, Economic Planning and Development), Francis Kasaila (Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) and Salim Bagus (Trade, Industry and Tourism).
In July, African leaders launched a continental free-trade area that if successful would unite 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.