Photo credits: State House
President Lazarus Chakwera has made a resounding call for all Malawians to work together and build on the foundation that the government has laid through several projects it is implementing, skewed towards job and wealth creation.
He said this at Parliament in Lilongwe when delivering his State of The Nation Address (SONA), which also highlighted how the ‘ATM strategy’ (Agriculture, Tourism and Mining) that his administration chose to focus on is fairing.
Having had the country go through socioeconomic shocks, President Chakwera reiterated his seriousness in reviving the country’s economy and investing in programmes that change people’s lives.
“What Malawians deserve is an economy that is no longer sick, one that is healthy and able to compete, not just one whose fever is slowly going down,” President Chakwera said during the SONA.
In the quest to create jobs for Malawians, the president disclosed that government has in this financial year, provided 197,809 job opportunities in agriculture, health, and education, among other sectors.
“My administration has also embarked on the quest to secure jobs for young people abroad, and we have already succeeded in sending hundreds of workers to Israel,” he said.
TAKE HOME POINTS THAT SHAPED SONA
Agriculture predominantly powers Malawi’s economy, contributing approximately a third of the gross domestic product. However, the sector has been hit by the ripple effects from the impact of natural disasters such as Cyclone Freddy – which wreaked havoc last March, particularly in the southern part of the country and caused significant damage to crops.
Despite this, President Chakwera said the country still produced enough maize to meet the minimum national maize requirement and the government is also providing maize to those affected by hunger.
“…the number of people requiring food support has increased by 15 percent from 3.9 million in 2022. This is the pain Malawians are feeling. In response, my administration embarked on the lean season response for all the affected people in all the districts, giving each of the affected households a 50 kg bag of maize every month, and I expect that members of this House whose constituencies have received this maize will testify that this is true,” the President said.
According to Dr Chakwera, his administration targeted 1.5 million farmers to benefit from the AIP this growing season, with the expectation that they will produce 1,125,000 metric tonnes. “Thus contributing over 32 percent to our national food grain requirement,” he said.
The President indicated that his administration will continue with the mega-farms initiative, which has already seen the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) cultivate 103 hectares of maize while Dwangwa Farm has produced 700 Metric Tonnes of maize.
The Malawi Defence Force has also made headway by also establishing mega-farms.
The area under irrigation in the country has grown by 2 percent to offset the El Niño weather.
President Chakwera said his administration has invested a lot in the energy sector and has seen consistent power availability, leading to an increase in economic opportunities for workers in the informal sector, including small barbershops and salons.
Industrialisation through mining has been a topic of discussion amongst economic experts in the country. Last year, President Chakwera set up the institutional framework for creating wealth in the mining sector. As a result, the president said the Mines and Minerals Act has to be revised. Furthermore, he said a national mining company has finally been incorporated to develop the sector, create jobs, and maximize revenue.
The Malawi leader expressed surprise that the country is yet to reap maximum benefit from tourism although the sector is Malawi’s third largest source of foreign exchange after tobacco and tea.
To capitalise on its massive potential, Chakwera said the government has made bilateral agreements with Mozambique, Uganda, and Kuwait to introduce direct air flights to Malawi.
He further said his administration acquired 52.7 hectares of land for Salima Integrated Hotel and Resort and it has already courted the private sector.
The Malawi leader said because of these efforts, international arrivals have increased by 64 percent from 2021.