The World Bank has committed to resume budgetary support to Malawi by disbursing $50 million and $100 million to be injected into the health sector.
The development follows negotiations that took place in Washington between the World Bank officials and Malawi Government officials who have strategically accompanied the Malawi President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, in the United States of America.
World Bank Regional Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa, Victoria Kwakwa, disclosed this when she met President Dr Lazarus Chakwera in Washington DC, United States of America, on the sidelines of the US Africa Leaders Summit that the Malawi leader went to attend at the invitation of his US counterpart, Joe Biden.
Kwakwa said she called on the President as a follow-up on discussions the two had with the World Bank Executive Director when President Chakwera visited the World Bank Group in September 2022.
She said the Bank had agreed to step up engagements and support Malawi as the country navigates through difficult economic situations.
“We have speeded up disbursements under the existing portfolio. We have also put in place $50 million which will be made available soon to go into the budget to support maize purchases and the fight against cholera. We also have $100 million of support through an emergency health project that will support recurrent expenditure to get health personnel in place and other needs in the sector. That is also going to be approved next week. We will disburse the first $50 million immediately and the rest of it will come in due course,” said the World Bank official also disclosing that they discussed some of the economic challenges facing the country more broadly in the water and sanitation sector.
Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who was part of the meeting commended the bank for the support toward her ministry saying it was timely: “As a ministry, they have committed $100 million of which $50 million will be available in a few days. This is huge for us and it’s going to support our recurrent costs but there is also an extra $50 million which they have committed from which $12 million is specifically for the cholera crisis that the country is facing. We are grateful for that and that budgetary support to Malawi as you know that for some years Malawi has had no budgetary support and for that we are very grateful”.
On agriculture support, the World Bank Regional Vice President disclosed that they discussed existing and new programmes that the government is putting in place to modernize farming to go into larger scale farming with more productivity while also working to support the work of smallholder farmers.
Kwakwa added that the meeting also touched on the energy sector which is the major challenge of the country and hinted the delay in the completion of the rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydro Power Station was in the spotlight too: “We recognise that the World Bank’s support to the rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydro Power Station hasn’t gone quick enough and we do take some responsibility as a Bank. The project has not gone as originally planned but we will rectify that.”
However, the World Bank official was quick to say they are stepping up support to sort out the challenge: “A new country director is taking this in hand and hopes that we can catch up on the delays but the responsibility is on us as the World Bank.”
She indicated that the Bank also remains committed to the Mpatamanga Hydro Power Project and looks forward to how they can work closely with Malawi Government so that it brings the country’s vast hydro resources to get her and enhance access to energy for all in Malawi.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nancy Tembo, who also attended the meeting welcomed the Bank’s commitment: “They undertook to complete the works on Kapichira by December but due to other factors for which they take part of the blame, we were not able to commission it in December, but what is encouraging is that they took part of the blame but have committed that we could be ready with Kapichira by April.”
On the Mpatamanga Power Project discussion, Tembo said the government was looking forward to its progress. She explained that the expectation is that once commissioned, Malawi will be able to get additional 350 megawatts of power.