By Andrew Mwaba
Since the African Development Bank (AfDB) commenced operations in Malawi in 1967 and then opened the Malawi Country Office in 2007, it has continued to impact positively on the lives of Malawians.
As of March 2017, the Bank’s active portfolio in Malawi comprised 18 ongoing operations, of which three projects were approved in 2016. Total commitment is estimated at UA 247.7 million. The portfolio has 17 public sector projects and one multinational project. With respect to the sources of finance, ADF constitutes 77.1%, followed by other sources like Global Agriculture, Food Security Program (GAFSP), NTF and the Fund for Advancement of the Private in Africa (FAPA).
The current portfolio is well aligned to the AfDB’s High 5s, with the bulk of the resources (51.8%) allocated to “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa” followed by “Feed Africa” (30%), Integrate Africa (17.4%) and ‘’Light up and power Africa” (0.8%).
In 2016, AfDB gave immense support to the Malawian government in its efforts to improve the lives of its citizens, within the context of the Banks Country Strategy Paper 2013 -2017 and the Banks “High 5s”. The Bank undertook the mid-term review of the strategy to examine how far it had come, and proposed measures to address challenges affecting the Bank’s portfolio.
Also in 2016, the Bank provided financing amounting to UA 34 million (about US$ 50 million) for three new operations: the Agricultural Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness Project; the Jobs for Youth Project; and the Food Crisis Response Support programme. In addition, the Bank provided a grant for humanitarian assistance for emergency food relief. A disbursement for on-going operations stands at 50 % of the portfolio.
One of the key highlights of the activities of the AfDB in Malawi within the period under review was the visit by the President of the Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina from April 5 to 6, 2016. It was his first official visit to Malawi after assuming office. During the historic visit, Adesina met with the President of Malawi, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, cabinet ministers and senior government officials. The AfDB President had used the opportunity to announce a major initiative to assist countries affected by drought in eastern and southern Africa, including Malawi to avert a food crisis.
Malawi also hosted a Group of nine Executive Directors of AfDB from March 6 to 11, 2016 on a high level consultation and dialogue mission. During their visit, the Executive Directors met with President Mutharika, the Minister of Finance and ADB Governor, Goodall Gondwe, and Cabinet Ministers in charge of 10 key portfolios. They also visited selected social sector, road infrastructure and irrigation projects to assess the impact of the projects financed by the bank on Malawians.
There are prospects that AfDB will continue to be a pillar of support for the Malawian economy. In 2017 and 2018, the Bank plans to invest in such projects as irrigation, energy and capacity building for private sector development.
Andrew Mwaba is Resident Representative Malawi