A down-ward spiral in industrial out-put over the past ten years has compelled the Malawi government to shift emphasis from trade to industry.
The administration of Bingu wa Mutharika has put industry development as a key policy goal towards propelling the economy, from one of pre-dominant imports, to an exporting nation, and renewed emphasis on industry as opposed to trade could be one of the trump cards, according to Industry and Trade Minister Henry Mussa. Previously, the ministry used to be known as trade and industry.
"We feel that there has been little emphasis on industry during the past ten years, and this has led to the almost collapse of the industry. But this government wants to change that and has initiated dialogue with the private sector on this," said Mussa in an interview.
He said the development had worsened the employment situation in the country as many people got laid off whenever key players in the manufacturing industry close shop, thus impacting negatively on Malawi's social-economic development.
Chancellor Kaferapanjira, Chief Executive Officer for the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), an representative organisation of private sector players, uphailed the move. He said the development should, however, be followed by necessary incentives for the manufacturing industry to develop.
Malawi has a pre-colonial Incentives Act busines and economic commentators agitate needs to be ammended, as it has mainly worked as a disincentive to Foreign Direct Investors.
According to Kaferapanjira, most FDIs have instead resolted to setting shop in neighbouring countries, such as Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Botswana.