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Saudi-Africa summit, the Compelling Need for Malawi to be Represented

 

President Lazarus Chakwera will be heading to Saudi Arabia where he is designated to attend the Arab-Africa Summit, Minister of Information has informed.

The First Saudi-Africa Summit will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 10th and 11th November, 2023. Thereafter, the President is scheduled to attend the 5th Arab-Africa Summit and the Afreximbank Intra-African Trade Summit which will be held in Cairo, Egypt, on 13th November, 2023.

Different centers of global power are all positioning themselves for a good relationship with the African continent. The US-Africa Summit; the Russia-Africa Summit; and the China-Africa Summit are all examples of global powers establishing themselves favorably with the African continent.

Regarding the newly-commissioned Arab-Africa Summit, Shire Times examined the initiative with particular focus on how Malawi has positioned its ambitions in that opportunity space.

The Malawi leader is expected to, on the sidelines of the event, meet His Excellency Sultan Al Marshad, Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Fund for Development. This meeting is slated for signing an agreement in which the Saudi development fund has committed to fund Seventy-Five Million Saudi Riyals (about 20 million US dollars or 22.45 billion Malawi Kwacha) towards the Mangochi-Makanjira road which the Chakwera administration is determined to deliver.

Further, the President is expected to meet Yasir Bin Othman Al Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Arabia Oil Group (Aramanco) and Maedem Mining and Fertiliser Company with whom Malawi continues to negotiate for oil and fertilizer deals.

According to Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has committed to take advantage of such global gatherings to advance specific interests for the people of Malawi, saying the Summit offers Malawi the best platform to articulate its interest and aspirations.

On the other hand the Afreximbank Summit which will be held in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people with a GDP of over US$3.5 trillion created under the African Continental Free Trade Area.

It is expected that Malawi’s participation at the Fair will facilitate market identification and linkages for Malawian businesses, both corporate companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The President has in the past undertaken different strategic trips whose results are now being seen. For example, he went to Mozambique for the Inauguration of Rehabilitated, Rehabilitated and Expanded Nacala Port, an undertaking which has now seen Malawi being able to transport 13% of its fuel imports by rail thereby saving on transportation cost.

At the 30th Annual General meeting of the Afreximbank that took place in Ghana, the President was able to secure a US$2.6 billion (about K2.7 trillion) from the Bank, to finance construction of mega farms, industrial parks and special economic zones.

During the 3rd China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, President Chakwera secured various financial and technical support including a donation of US$150,000 (K158 million) towards the country’s rebuilding efforts following the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy. The Government also signed a number of MOUs in ICT connection, E-government, smart education, ICT talent training, cybersecurity, renewable energy, and agriculture, among others.

At the 78th United Nations General Assembly Malawians benefitted from a 100 million US dollars (over 112 billion Kwacha) Educational Loan, and a 46 billion Kwacha for Social Cash Transfer among several opportunities.

While the Smart Africa’s Transform Africa Summit 2022 sets Malawi on the path for innovative digital transformation. Through Malawi’s participation, it is now possible for Malawi Government to engage other governments and enter into a partnership that will accelerate digital innovation in Malawi. Such partnerships are aimed at reducing cost of connectivity through specially negotiated Diplomatic Data Corridors with countries that have direct access to the fibre optic cables that have landed on their shores.

To this end, Malawi has already signed MOUs and Commercial Agreements with Zambia and Tanzania, and currently negotiating with Mozambique. Other countries that with which such partnership is being planned are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia.

On paper and to ordinary thinkers these trips could be seen as a waste of resources as has always been the narrative but looking deeper, it is clear that they are among the many foundation stones being put in place to build a better Malawi.

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