In what has been described as the meet and greet initiative, the Malawi Manchester Association has once again continued its drive to meet and hear from Malawians living within the greater manchester area . This weekend , the association’s chairman, Charles Kachitsa, together with some executive members took time to visit members of the Living Waters Church in the city.
The Living Waters Church visit comes at the back of another visit to the Calvary Family Church (CFC) last week. In answering why they chose the churches Mr Kachitsa said ” This is just the start and we will visit as many places as possible where a good number of malawians meet up. we understand that these churchs dont only have malawians, but we are happy because selling malawi to people of other countries is also part of our objectives” He further highlighted that the main purpose of the visit is to get to know as many malawians as possible and push for more togetherness amongst Malawians within the region.
At both the Living Waters and Calvary church , the MMA chairman shared the objectives of the association and called on all Malawians to get involved and work together with the association. He acknowledged that as an association it cannot not work independently without other stakeholders such as churches and other associations.
” We have an understanding that MMA is not a religious organisation-but we very much understand that we cannot exclude churches or mosques if we want to meet and hear from Malawians” explained Kachitsa. Leadership from the two churches commended the MMA for starting this association and highlighted their willingness to work alongside the association in matters that involve malawians in the region.
Asked whats next for MMA, Kachitsa said the meet and greet initiative will continue and that the executive of the association will meet soon to cement plans for further activities withing the christmas period. The other news is the fact that some members of the association will early next year run a half marathon to raise money for charity organistaions in Malawi.
There have been a lot of talk and criticism of Malawi President Joyce Banda and many of her overseas trips. It is indeed true that in the year she has been in office she has travelled abroad so many times. One can understand the criticism, as this is one of the things that made former heads of states Bingu wa Mutharika and Bakili Muluzi unpopular, and many were hoping that the new president will bring change. Joyce Banda defense on the other issue, says the overseas trips are worthy because the she is trying to get donors donate more to Malawi and also to attract potential investors to invest in Malawi.
This blogger however, despite the President’s efforts feels Malawi as a country is not doing enough to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Investment is critical to alleviate poverty in the long run because it is the mechanism that creates and sustains productive jobs.FDI can complement local development efforts by increasing financial resources for development, boosting export competitiveness and generating employment and strengthening the skills base.Malawi offer investment opportunities mainly in the areas of manufacturing, mining, forestry, tourism and agriculture. According to economy watch Malawi ranks No. 92 in world rankings according to Investment (% of GDP) in year 2013. The world’s average Investment (% of GDP) value is 22.20 %; Malawi is 0.75 less than the average.
Infrastructure remain poor
While the obvious story would be Malawi has poor road and technological infrastructures-in a way, that would be a general problem for most of the African Countries. However it is when you look at the situation of Escom, Malawi’s only electricity supplier, that you realize we have a bigger problem. Malawi experiences constant blackouts almost every day and this has been happening for the past 10 years. Will it be attractive for a manufacturing investor to come to Malawi, and instead of manufacturing spend days without power? Not really. And in these days when cost cutting is a necessity , should investors really put additional capital buying generators for use- not a simple thing to do when there are alternative countries they can go to in Africa.
As if the electricity problem is not enough, we have the water problems. Water keeps stopping for longer periods of the day. No investor will be happy to run a manufacturing plant without water. It is unpractical and not right, health and safety wise. What is amazing is that these problems have been going on for some time and one wonders why the government doesn’t prioritize these things in their yearly budgets.
Not so attractive investors incentives.
Countries have and will increasingly compete with each other to attract FDI by offering a number of incentives and other concessionary measures. Apart from fiscal or tax incentives, defined as “policies that are designed to reduce the tax burden of a firm” (including loss write-offs and accelerated
depreciation), countries could offer financial incentives, defined as “direct contributions to the firm from the government” (including direct capital subsidies, subsidised loans or dedicated infrastructure).In 1991, the Malawi Government passed an Investment Promotion Act, which provides for tax benefits to exporters and pioneering industries in agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, tourism etc
Some of the incentives include, 100 percent investment allowance on qualifying expenditure for new building and machinery; Allowance up to 40 percent for used buildings and machinery 50 percent allowance for qualifying training costs; Allowance for manufacturing companies to deduct all operating expenses incurred up to 25 months prior to the start of operations; Loss carry forward of up to seven years, enabling companies to take advantage of allowances; Additional 15 percent allowance for investment in designated areas of the country such as Kanengo, Chirimba and Luwinga Industrial sites and Free repatriation of dividends, profits, and royalties
However the realization that the percentage of investors has been going down should over the years should raise an alarm that we need to do something to change our incentives and make them attractive. Where competition for investors is intense as it is now, give away or simple incentives will not be effective enough, but also the readiness of economic infrastructure, the quality of manufacturing factors and the environment that is conducive to quality investment.
Levels of corruption
The anti- corruption bureau is there but it’s not biting enough. High profile cases that could have sent a strong message have gone to court and are taking years to come to conclusion. And there is the growing speculation of top government politicians getting involved in dodgy deals or offering contracts for money. To attract investors, the government of the day needs to be seen puting measures to combat high levels of corruption and that those measures are working. There needs to be transparency in government dealings and that should start from top leadership. It doesn’t help when even the president refuses to declare her assets, while her predecessor is alleged to have amassed wealth of MK61. Malawi has to be proactive in implementing measures that will give potential investors confidence to invest in Malawi
Not Marketing itself enough
Malawi should realize that it is in a competition. A lot of African countries are trying to attract investors to their countries. Malawi has got this organization Malawi investment promotion agency (MIPA), whose aim is to be at the forefront of promoting the country to potential domestic and foreign investors. I visited their website http://www.malawi-invest.net/. And I was shocked. While there is some vital information there but the website seems, is not regularly updated. The last of promotional events on the site is dated way back in 2011. In the modern world where investors prefer to do most of their secondary research on the web, having a not up to date website is not a better way to market Malawi.
The Government should facilitate the creation of awareness of investment opportunities, by using the diplomatic relations it has with investor countries, improve its web presence, and utilise presidents overseas trips to have meetings with investors rather than focusing on asking for aid.
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6th July is just a few days away. That great moment when every year Malawians rejoice, celebrating the day when Malawi got independence from the British rule to become a sovereign state.This year, it will be 49 years since that independence was declared. While the climax of the day’s celebrations will be in Malawi where the president , Her excellency Joyce Banda will lead the nation, the changing demographic structure of Malawi will mean a good number will not be in Malawi for the event-as over the years Malawians have left the country to live abroad.
It is the diaspora effect that highlights the significance of the recent announcement by the Malawi Manchester Association(MMA) that there will be national celebrations for independence in UK. What is of interest is that the occasion will be a national event whereby all regional associations have agreed to have manchester as the official host. Malawians from all around the UK will travel to Manchester for the event.
A celebration of Malawi independence in a foreign country is not only beneficial to Malawians in that they can remind themselves of home; but it is also a showing of pride in our country. It is a perfect showcase to other nationalities as such of how united as a nation we are. Event like this brings together malawians from different sectors which makes it a great networking event where relationshpis could be forged in business deals as well as sharing information on how best we can help develop Malawi as a country.
According to MMA the independence day celebrations will take place on saturday 6th july from 12pm-5pm where sports games, barbeque and children events will take place. All this will be at KING GEORGE PARK, CHAPMAN STREET GORTON MANCHESTER M18 8WQ. As if that is not enough-the fun will turn into a dinner dance where for £10 pounds you will be entertaiined to Malawian music by Malawian DJs as you eat and drink. There will be a raffle draw as well. The dinner dance will take place at; Sacred heart hall, Levenshulme road, Gorton Manchester M18 7WJ from 7pm till late.
For reasons highlighted, the Manchester event is a must attend for everyone who prides themselves in being Malawian and every other person of other nationalities who want to join in to celebrate with us. Cham the blogger will attend because this is the biggest event of the year for all Malawians in UK
The recent revealations about malawi’s former head of state, the late Bingu wa Mutharika and the amount of wealth that he left behind has shocked the majority of malawians. However, more shocked at this time is the party that he left behind, the democratic progressive party (DPP) and his young brother Peter mutharika who is hoping to be malawis next president in the forthcoming general elections.
According to malawi media, quoting sources from the affidavit by Yeremia Chihana of YMW property investment, the former head of state left an estate worthy mk61 billion at the time of his death in 2012 which he kept in foreign bank accounts. This is far from the mk154 millon he had when he got in power in 2004. This suggest that in his 8 year rule Bingu moved from a millionare to a multi billionare. Well the man was a president after all one would say, However the worrying thing is, it is not accounted for how he got such a huge amount of money .
From a marketing perspective this blogger wants to take a look at how the recent issue will affect the late president young brother and his party DPP. Let it be known that Peter and the DPP are on the market at the moment. Although official campaigning hasn’t been launched, the party has been trying to sell itself to malawians, enticing them to vote for the party back in power in next years elections. This is a crucial time and any of these issues can massively derail them in their campaign
One American proffessor at University of California David Aaker in 1991 came up with a model that could help any brand (in this case Peter and DPP) work out how best they maximise their value in the face of competitors and customers as such. The brand equity model looks into a brand in four dimensions namely; its awareness, perceived quality, brand association and brand loyalty. It is no doubt that in terms of brand awareness DPP and Peter are well known. They were up until now one of the favourites to win the presidency in the next general election
The revelation of Bingus finances has put a mark on how people perceive DPP. As the party that was in power, these revelations would represent a party that did not put good control and monitoring measures government money which could have created loopholes from where the former president could have done his allegedly dodgy deals.
Suppose one would say, this issue need to be proved before Bingu can be called a thief-however one can never take away the fact that peoples confidence in DPP has been shaken. Their image has been hit by this revelations.
The many economic hardships Malawians faced during Bingu era and which the effects are still up to now, are painful enough to suggest that they will be forgiving to DPP and Peter if the allegations are to be true. Peter might pay the price for having a Mutharika name. If allegations will come true, not many Malawians will trust another mutharika with the government money.
There have always been concerns on the growing levels of corruption in Malawi. If Bingu really got the money through dubious means, the mutharika name will forever be associated with corruption. Any mention of the name will bring back memories of mk61 billion .
DPP may find itself at the crossroads as it cannot start disassociating itself from Bingu now. The party is built around Bingu values and legacy. They have already had their convention so can never run away from the mutharika name (in peter) representing them as the presidential candidate. All they can hope, is for all this to prove the money legitimately belonged to Bingu. However even if it proves the money was stolen, DPP will have to restategise and rescue their campaign. Saying sorry and rebranding the party as the “new dpp” are just some of the ways they can revert from this disaster.
Dpp is guaranteed that they will have some loyalty, based on malawi electoral profile where people can vote according to tribal lines. However it is the swing votes that wins you the presidency. If DPP and Peter cannot manage this properly they are bound to be punished for the sins committed by their father Bingu.
If I was a DPP strategist, I would accept that all is not well In regards to the party image. But I would have hope that not all is lost. Bingu hasnt been proved that he stole the money and a year is a long time in politics, a quick repositioning of the party is very much possible before the elections next year.