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A team of nine African Development Bank Executive Directors visited Malawi from March 6 to 11, 2016 on a high-level consultation and dialogue mission. During their visit, the Executive Directors met with President Arthur Peter Mutharika, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, Cabinet Ministers, Reserve Bank Governor Charles Chuka, the Speaker of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, senior government officials, representatives of the private sector and civil society, and development partners.
The Executive Directors noted with concern two major challenges facing Malawi – the difficult macro-economic situation, which is manifested in high inflation, depreciated currency, high interest rates and low growth as well as the severe food crisis arising from weather shocks. However, they commended the Government for its tenacity in tackling the challenges under difficult circumstances.
They underscored the need to sustain the reform effort, particularly in fiscal policy and Public Financial Management to restore macroeconomic stability and instill private sector confidence.
The Executive Directors reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to assist Malawi build resilience and achieve sustainable development, through targeted support for irrigation, other key infrastructure especially energy and transport, and private sector development and policy advice. The Bank will support Malawi’s efforts to expand domestic resource mobilization and eventually wean the country from dependence on aid.
While in Malawi, the Executive Directors visited selected social sector, road infrastructure and irrigation projects to get an understanding of the impact the Bank financed projects are making in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the country. Specifically, they visited Monkey Bay Rural Growth Centre, where they were able to appreciate the implementation and achievements of the Local Economic Development Project.
Projects financed under the Nacala Corridor Development project – namely Liwonde-Mangochi and the Lilongwe West Bypass Road, as well as the Zomba-Blantyre Trunk Road Project – were among the projects visited by the team. Both the Blantyre-Zomba Road and the Lilongwe West Bypass Road have been successfully completed and opened to traffic while construction on the Liwonde- Mangochi Road is planned to start later this year.
They also visited Chisoka Health Centre in Thyolo district, which was constructed with support from the African Development Bank under the Malawi Health Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) programme. The Bank’s support has had significant impact on the health and livelihoods in a catchment area of 27,000 people in 18 villages.
In the meeting with development partners including diplomatic missions, the Executive Directors discussed a number of challenges and opportunities to improve the country’s economy. In the short-term, they noted that it was important for the country to manage the macro-economic situation and reduce inflation and interest rates in order to attract private sector investment. In the medium- to long-term, emphasis should be placed on investment in infrastructure and irrigated agriculture to build resilience and enhance productivity. The Bank, in collaboration with other development partners, will continue to support the Government’s socio-economic development initiatives.
In their engagement with representatives of the civil society and private sector, they expressed their satisfaction with the civil society’s participation and urged them to continue to promote good governance in the country. CSOs, they said, play a significant role in the implementation of development activities particularly those targeting the poor and vulnerable.
In discussions with the Bankers Association of Malawi and Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Executive Directors noted the challenges faced by the private sector, among which is lack of access to credit. The AfDB will strive to deepen collaboration with the Government and local financial institutions to enhance financial inclusion.
Describing their visit as “extremely fruitful and insightful”, the Executive Directors expressed their appreciation of the warm welcome and excellent hospitality accorded to them by the Government and people of Malawi.