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Malawi: Chakwera Off to Saudi Arabia for Summit, to Get K22bn for Makanjira Road

President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday left the country for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he is expected to attend the first Saudi Arabia-Africa Summit, with a promise to bring home K22.4 billion for the construction of Makanjira-Mangochi road.

After the Saudi-Africa summit, President Dr Chakwera will proceed to Cairo, Egypt to attend the Third intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2023).

Speaking on departure at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, President Dr Chakwera said he was primarily going to Saudi Arabia to witness the signing of an agreement between Riyadh and Lilongwe on the construction of the road.

“I am going to Saudi Arabia primarily for the Makanjira road.

“That area is extremely rich not just for agriculture, it can also be used for tourism and mining as well.

“We are talking about the ATM strategy. For immediate results, this is a significant roadmap helping us towards 2063,” he said.

He also said his visit to the two countries would help create market opportunities for Malawi’s products.

He observed that for the country to become a self reliant and industrialised one, the agriculture sector has to produce, add value to what it produces and ensure that the products have markets.

“Saudi Arabia where I am going is very rich, not only in agriculture but also in tourism and mining which is a significant roadmap to help us towards 2063” he said.

Chakwera said there was need for the country to produce more, not just for consumption, but also for export, saying his visit to Egypt would boost trade amongst African nations.

“Trade in Africa is extremely needed at this stage and we need to trade more so that we don’t rely on aid.

“But you have to produce quality products and so we want to look at all this in light of our vision and see how this country can be propelled to exponential growth because of the deliberate steps we are taking” he said.

According to a press release signed by Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu, the Saudi Arabia visit is critical to the signing of the Mangochi- Makanjira road construction agreement to be financed by the Saudi Fund for Development.

President Chakwera will proceed to Cairo to the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) Intra African Trade Fair engagements.

President Chakwera was scheduled to attend two summits in Saudi Arabia namely the Saudi-Africa summit and the 5th Arab-Africa Summit, but the 5th Arab-Africa summit was postponed.

Announcing the 5th Arab-Africa Summit in the November 6, 2023 communique, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia indicated that the summit was postponed until further notice but the first Saudi-Africa summit scheduled for will continue as planned.

However, the cancellation of the 5th Arab-Africa Summit has insignificant impact on the President’s Saudi Arabia trip as the most important engagement–the Saudi-Africa summit–to discuss the ambitious construction of the Mangochi/Makanjira Road Project, was still on.

Minister of Information and Digitalisation Kunkuyu said the Saudi-Africa summit was significant as the President was expected to witness the signing ceremony of the impressive road project budgeted at a staggering 75 million Saudi Riyals, which translates to approximately $20 million or an impressive 22.45 billion Malawi Kwacha.

“The sheer magnitude of this funding highlights the project’s strategic importance in enhancing Malawi’s transportation networks, connecting communities, and promoting economic development,” he said.

Kunkuyu said Saudi Arabia has rapidly become a steadfast and friendly partner to Malawi, especially within the Middle East says that over the years, the country has demonstrated its commitment to supporting Malawi’s development agenda across multiple sectors, notably in infrastructure and agriculture.

“The support extends to critical areas like food security and agricultural productivity, which are fundamental in Malawi, an agrarian-based nation,” he said adding that the contributions have had a direct, positive impact on Malawian farmers, improving livelihoods and contributing to the nation’s overall food security.

He said President Chakwera’s visit to Saudi Arabia is more than just a diplomatic encounter; as it also symbolizes the strengthening of a valuable partnership that aims to foster growth and prosperity within Malawi.

“The witnessing of the Mangochi/Makanjira Road Project agreement is a notable highlight, reflecting the commitment of both nations to collaborative development and infrastructure advancement,” he said.

The Minister further said it is expected that the upcoming journey to Saudi Arabia will open doors for further collaboration, boost existing initiatives, and catalyze the mutual aspirations of both nations in the pursuit of socio-economic progress.

“The loan agreement signing is scheduled to be a momentous event and a testament to the enduring and friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and Malawi.

“As the preparations for this significant occasion continue, Malawians remain hopeful for a future marked by transformative infrastructure, economic growth, and strengthened partnerships with allies like Saudi Arabia,” he said.

After the Saudi Arabia engagement, the President is scheduled to participate in the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) Intra African Trade Fair, set to be hosted in Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt, on November 13, 2023.

On the AFREXIMBANK Intra African Trade Fair, Kunkuyu said Malawi is expected to facilitate market identification and foster valuable connections for Malawian businesses, encompassing corporate companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“The Malawian delegation will execute a robust exhibition strategy, designed to foster strategic investment agreements and bolster economic growth,” he said.

He further said the critical role that President Chakwera’s participation in this International engagement will play in articulating the tangible benefits and trade opportunities that will emerge from this significant African collaboration.

“The President’s presence underscores Malawi’s commitment to expanding its global reach and enhancing trade partnerships with countries across the African continent,” he said.

The AFREXIMBANK Intra African Trade Fair is a collaborative effort between AFREXIMBANK, the African Union Commission, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, marking a significant occasion for fostering continental unity and economic growth.