Malawi President Peter Mutharika on Friday performed his maiden opening of the 26th Malawi International Trade Fair with a commitment to instituting wide-ranging reforms to the way the country does its business.
Speaking at the International Trade Fair grounds in Blantyre, Mutharika said Malawi needs to be transformed, through collective efforts, into a platform of productive economic activities across the board as well as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.
Started in 1987 to address a balance of payments crisis at the time, this year’s the Trade Fair is being held under theme, Productivity: A key to Exploiting Export Opportunities and has attracted 250 exhibitors, with two coming from Zimbabwe and another two from Kenya.
“I am pleased that this year’s theme is consistent with my government’s agenda of seeking to transform the country from a consuming economy to an exporting one,” said Mutharika, promising to achieve this through investment in training and application of new technologies, among other measures.
The President said his administration will place the private sector at the core of the drive to redistribute wealth, create sustainable jobs and enhance the competitiveness of Malawian products on the international market.
“This means my administration will introduce reforms to create a conducive environment in which the private sector is able to rise to the occasion and attend to the important task of driving the engine of economic growth,” said Mutharika.
Part of the reforms, the President said, will be to expand the scope of the Ministry of Labour to include the task of bridging the contradictions between curriculums in schools and the human resource needs in public and private sector.
“Through creativity, hard work and collaboration, we, as country, will be able to achieve anything,” Mutharika said.
Speaking earlier, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Newton Kambala lamented that many challenges that affect industry, notably electricity water disruptions, are being addressed minimally.
Kambala called on government to focus on the manufacturing industry which, in his words, has received half-hearted attention from the previous administrations in democratic Malawi.
He appealed to government to consider partnership with the chamber in putting up a world class exhibition centre through public private partnership.
Kambala said the chamber as a non-profit making organisation cannot on its own raise enough funds to develop the project as such need government intervention.
“The benefits of the facility to the government in attracting serious international buyers are immerse. If exports increase certainly foreign exchange should no longer be a problem,” he said.
He said the chamber has basic drawings for the project and is ready to engage government officials.