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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Zambia to support Shire-Zambezi project
08:55:44 - 13 December 2005

New Zambian envoy to Malawi, Mweemba Joshua Simuyandi, Thursday assured President Bingu wa Mutharika his government would make sure the Shire-Zambezi waterway project materialises.

He was speaking last during presentation of his letters of credence to Mutharika at New State House in Lilongwe.

The Zambian envoy observed that once the Shire-Zambezi waterway is completed, it would improve the socio-economic status of Malawi and neighbouring countries, including Zambia.

Simuyandi said the US$ 6 billion (K744 billion) project is in line with the objective of the new Economic Partnership for African Development (Nepad) in infrastructure as pillar for accelerating economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa.

The waterway project, he said, would re-open the Shire and Zambezi rivers to navigation and provide direct link between Nsanje in Malawi and the port of Chinde at the mouth of Zambezi on the India Ocean.

“In considering the development of the economies between Malawi and Zambia, there is need to get cheaper ways of importing or exporting to the port through the sea,” he said.

Landlocked Malawi loses more than 30 percent of the total annual export bill in high transport costs and experts say the rate is bound to grow at more than 7.5 percent by 2008.

The high cost of transportation increases the cost of production and thus making Malawian goods and services uncompetitive on the international market, analysts say.

The Shire-Zambezi Waterway is Mutharika’s brainchild and once completed, is expected to turn Nsanje into a formidable city, complete with its own international airport.

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