BY Peter Makossah in London07:57:55 - 09 April 2008
GOVERNMENT says good governance and increased business dialogue with the international community has transformed the country into a first-rate trade, tourism and investment destination in the world. Trade and Industry Minister Henry Mussa said this Friday night at the Royal League Overseas Hall in Westminster, London where he presided over a Malawian Investment Forum, organised by the Malawi High Commission in the United Kingdom in conjunction with the Commonwealth Business Council. "The future outlook of Malawi as a tourist and investment destination looks bright and promising. Malawi has a lot to offer to the world in many facets such as tourism, trade, mining and agriculture among other things,” Mussa said.Mussa, accompanied by a Malawian delegation from the private and public sector, including Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Minister Calista Chapola-Chimombo, told prospective investors and Malawians in diaspora the country has a shared vision to become major exporting country other than a consuming nation.“Malawi under its dynamic leadership is quickly moving away from being a consuming country to a major exporting country,” Mussa said.He said government has put in place some measures to attract new investors like tax waivers and has simplified the procedure for getting business license.He added: “Our policies on international investment are flexible. But more importantly, is the fact that Malawi is beautiful and a spot-on distillation of the true African experience that is why it is called “The Warm of Heart of Africa.”In her remarks Chapola-Chimombo said Malawi is a potential tourism destination because of its natural exquisiteness and political stability and encouraged the international business community to invest into Malawi’s tourism sector.“Malawi is one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the world. Its natural beauty coupled with its friendly people Malawi remains an attractive location,” said Chapola-Chimombo. Deputy Director of tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Isaac Katopola, who presented a paper on tourism, said the number of visitors to Malawi increased from 173, 000 in 1995 to 637, 772 in 2006 and the Britain topped the list.Speaking earlier on Director General for the Commonwealth Business Council Dr. Mohan Kaul commended government of Malawi for taking an initiative to stage an economic forum in a bid to woo foreign investors saying it is a positive development towards the growth of Malawi’s economy.In his remarks the Malawian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Francis Moto thanked the Commonwealth Business Council for the continued support saying the Malawi economic forum could not have been possible if it were not the council’s help.National Bank of Malawi Business Development Manager Wilkins Mijiga in his presentation said Malawi is now a safe haven for investment because of its magnificent economic transformation. “There is no better place to go in this world for trade, investment or as a tourism destination than the warm heart of Africa, everything is warm in Malawi, from weather to its people. And above all there is National Bank the bank for the nation,” he said. The Malawi economic Forum was an idea, which was hatched by the Malawi High Commission in the United Kingdom as a way to promote Malawi as a trade and investment location. Funding was sourced both in Malawi and United Kingdom from Bantu Holdings, Global Tea, CRU Africa Invest, Veetee Rice, Limphasa Sugar Cooperation, Lisungwe Mining National Bank and Stanbic Bank South Africa.According to Jayne Banda, First Secretary at the Malawi High Commission in UK the Malawi Economic Forum whose areas of interest were tourism, transport, manufacturing and production such as producing starch from cassava.Malawians living in UK seem to be happy at the idea of holding the Malawi Economic Forum on annual basis saying it is the best way to sell Malawi to the international market as a viable destination for investment and trade.Mathews Mtumbuka a Malawian engineer who lives in Aberdeen in Scotland said the forum is the best way to sell Malawi to potential investors worldwide. “I have enjoyed the forum more and it was a good way to market Malawi to international investors and I am sure this will not be the last forum but the beginning of more better things to come,” said Mtumbuka.The forum attracted presentations from National Bank, Reserve Bank of Malawi, Mipa, Stanbic, Escom, Privatisation Commission, Air Malawi, Mzuzu Coffee, Unilever, government officials from Trade and Industry, ministries of lands, tourism, mining and transport among others.