After months of strict adherence to the limitations of foreign travels, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has flown to Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the host nation of this year’s Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit.
Themed ‘Promoting Industrialization, through Agro-processing, Mineral Beneficiation, and Value chains for Inclusive and Resilient Economic Growth’, this year’s SADC Heads of State meeting could not have come at an opportune time than now when Malawi has recently discovered a mineral deposit called rutile in Kasiya, Lilongwe and at a crucial time when the country intends to shift its attention to agro processing.
For Malawi, this is not a routine adventure of meet and greet but it is a platform to solicit ideas from Southern African leaders on how to go about the mineral business, bearing in mind that some of its countries in the SADC region are experienced in that area.
“As many of you have already heard, it has recently been discovered that Malawi has the largest deposit in the whole world of a valuable metal called rutile, located somewhere in my own village of Kasiya. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because we are seeing the fulfilment of the prophetic words spoken by President Kamuzu Banda when he said that ‘Chuma chiri munthaka’.
“Soon my Government will be announcing to all Malawians and the world how these natural resources will be managed and leveraged to usher in a new dawn of economic freedom and development for our people,” said Chakwera.
This part of President Chakwera’s speech made during the opening of 32nd Malawi International Trade Fair at Chichiri appraising Malawians for the discovery of the said mineral at Kasiya. The country has been told of this mineral and we have discussed about it but there is a need for government to tell the world of this good newly found wealth, so there is no better platform to start from than SADC.
Again, with the Malawi realigning its industrialization with the focus of agro-business, this year’s SADC theme feels like it has been tailored specifically to meet the Malawian dream particularly on “promoting industrialization through agro-processing” part.
Speaking during the Private Sector Lab in June this year, President Chakwera reaffirmed his commitment for the country to turn a new leaf in terms of selling the agricultural produce by making adding value to it through agro-processing
He said: “As I said in March, one key sector we must unlock together during this lab is agriculture, which is presently our economy’s greatest strength and backbone, accounting for nearly a third of GDP. Unlocking this sector and our historic strength in it is key to creating the kind of value we can invest in other sectors and achieve the diversification we desire.
“Unlocking this sector means making agro-industrialization a top priority for this lab, because even if your business is in another sector, its success is critical in advancing agro-industrialization through the investments of your profits in agricultural businesses of scale.
“This agenda of agro-industrialization is a top priority for my administration in general and for the lab in particular, because it is what we all agreed to make a top priority for achieving the Malawi 2063 Vision an inclusively wealthy, self-reliant, middle-income economy. And it is the surest and quickest path to achieving the job creation, wealth creation, and food security I promised Malawians.”
The SADC meeting therefore provides an opportunity for President Chakwera to pitch his ideas of agro-processing to other regional leaders. Malawi as tiny as it is, needs the shoulders of a giant like SADC if it is to be recognized within the global space.
So, after staying away from some equally important foreign engagements such as the OPEC summit in Vienna, Austria where he delegated his Ministers Abida Mia and Ibrahim Matola of Water and Energy respectively and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda as one way of cost cutting measures, this SADC Heads of State Summit is a must-attend occasion not only for the handover of the Chairmanship but the opportunity of growth in the area of trade.