The Malawi government has engaged Chinese firms to carry out multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects, including the construction of airports and the rehabilitation of railway lines linking the landlocked country to the Mozambican Indian Ocean ports of Beira and Nacala.
President Joyce Banda said at this year’s first Parliamentary sitting, in the capital, Lilongwe, that the Malawi government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the upgrading of Kamuzu International Airport, in Lilongwe, and the building of a new airport in the resort town of Mangochi.
She said her government had also engaged China’s Shanghai Construction Company to build a new airport in the commercial capital, Blantyre, to replace Chileka International Airport, which is in a poor condition.
Banda, a former Vice President who ascended to power last year following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, said her government had signed another MoU with CHEC for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Beira–Sena railway line and the Nacala rail corridor.
The projects are part of the country’s economic recovery plan, which includes transport and infrastructure among its five priorities.
“My government believes that a reliable and modern transport infrastructure and network is crucial for any country’s socio- economic growth and development.”
The other priority areas in Malawi’s economic recovery plan are agriculture, mining, tourism and energy.
Banda said her government had also signed an MoU with TBEA, of China, for the upgrading of the power line from Nkula to Bwengu to high-voltage status as part of the energy development plan, which will see the country interconnecting to Mozambique’s high-voltage grid to enable power trading between the two countries.
“The feasibility study for the upgrade of the line has been finalised and the project is expected later this year.”
Meanwhile, as part of its tourism development plan, the Malawi government is offering concessions to investors to develop and operate tourism infrastructure in a number of areas, including the Liwonde and Kasungu national parks, in the eastern and central regions respectively.
The Malawi government is also seeking investors keen on developing tourism infrastructure.
“To promote tourism and foreign investment into Malawi, government will rationalise the visa regime so that bona fide tourists are able to visit the country without much difficulty. Government is also in the pro- cess of implementing an open sky policy to allow more and competitive flights in and out of Malawi,” Banda said.
She also announced that Malawi and Tanzania had completed the preparatory phase of the multimillion-dollar Songwe River Basin Development Project, including the signing of an MoU. The project will involve the construction of multipurpose dams along the Songwe river for irrigation, fisheries and hydropower schemes, as well as for tourism.