Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) on Monday told delegates to the first-ever Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) in Lilongwe that the business climate has this year improved compared to last year.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira, in his presentation during the official opening of the forum, said based on sentiments from their members through the Malawi Business Climate Survey carried out last year, prospects for seamless business are quite good.
For instance, he said most of their members are willing to scale up their production levels, invest more and increase their workforce.
“Seventy one percent of the respondents felt that their business will do better and that they will increase the number of their businesses, which is a reflection that they are expecting improved business environment,” said Kaferapanjira, in his brief presentation to the delegates that included President Peter Mutharika and Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
He said the survey revealed that 53 percent of businesses will expand production, 49 percent will employ more people while 51 percent indicated they will increase their investment level.
Kaferapanjira said if businesses are planning to invest more, produce more and employ more people, it shows the level of confidence they have in the economy.
“So, the message to investors is that it is incumbent upon you to grab various investment opportunities and invest.”
But Kaferapanjira said although the business climate is improving, there are still three key challenges facing the business community, citing uncertainty shrouding the economic stability, high cost of finance from financial institutions and incessant power outages.
On high cost of borrowing, he said the situation stems from high inflation rate, the rate at which prices of goods and services change in an economy.
Kaferapanjira observed that generally, commercial banks in the country do not concentrate on long-term lending but rather short-term financing.
But he assured prospective investors that the situation is bound to change with the coming on board of Export Development Fund (EDF) and the Malawi Development Bank, which he said offer long-term lending.
Kaferapanjira said it is lucrative to invest in energy sector, agro-processing and the financial services sector as outlined in the Malawi compendium of projects at the Malawi Investment Trade Centre (Mitc).
On his part, Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe, who was in jovial mood, said that government is highly optimistic on growing the economy with high rates, reducing inflation and growing exports.
“We have done this before between 2004 and the 2012 when we raised GDP [gross domestic product] from two percent to nine percent and we also took our time to reduce inflation from around 64 percent to seven percent within seven years and we also doubled exports. We hope to bring down inflation again to single digits, and we will do it.”