President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika Saturday opened a US$12 million (about K9 billion) Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory at Raiply Malawi Limited in Mzimba District with a call for more investors to spur socio-economic growth of the country.
Speaking after opening the factory, Mutharika said besides bringing forex into the country, the new factory will help in fighting unemployment, and boost economy through taxes.
“The Raiply factory will transform the economic landscape of this region. I have been informed that the EPZ factory utilizes various left-overs from the parent factory to transform them into valuable quality products.
“This is commendable; not only because it saves on our forex, but also because it maximizes on the utilization of our natural resources,” Mutharika said.
The inauguration of this factory is a fulfillment of his government’s effort to woo investors who can produce export quality products.
He said foreign investors will make government realize its dream of transforming the nation from a predominantly importing country to a producing and exporting country.
“This Raiply EPZ comes at a time my government projected to narrow the trade deficit by 7.8 percent this year from 10.9 percent in 2014.
“We are making progress; we are reducing imports, and increasing exports. We want to sell more outside and buy less,” Mutharika said.
He made a strong assurance that his government will provide conducive environment for the smooth operation of any private investor.
“I, therefore, invite more private companies to invest in Malawi. Government will give them all the support they need in order to establish and run viable businesses in this country,” he said.
He said his government has stabilized the economy and that all economic fundamentals are supportive of any investment.
“This year alone, Malawi has risen on the doing business index with 23 percentage points. In three years, we have risen with 61 percentage points from 171 to 110 on the doing business index.
“So, I welcome more investors into Malawi. Conditions are very right now for investments,” Mutharika said.
On power outages, which affect productivity of investors negatively, the President made an assurance that government is tirelessly working on both short-term and long-term solutions, pledging that the challenge will be surmounted soon.
“As a country, we are paying the cost of neglecting the energy sector for many years. My job is to reverse this situation. And we are almost there. The situation should improve by end of next month.
“The challenges we face are temporary, but our solutions are permanent,” the President said.
He then urged the communities around the factory to own the multimillion kwacha facility to continue maximizing its benefits by among other things refraining from acts of vandalism and theft.
“Avoid harvesting timber illegally in concession areas. This is how we can sustain the employment opportunities that have accrued in our areas through Raiply Malawi Limited,” he said.
Earlier, Raiply Malawi Limited CEO Krishna Das said much as the company performs better, it suffers encroachment and bush fires, among other challenges.
“It is our estimate that over 2, 100 hectares has been encroached or illegally harvested and is now totally bare,” he said.
To reverse the situation, the CEO said his company and Department of Forestry have ganged up to plant trees in degraded areas.
Welcoming the head of State, Paramount Chief M’mbelwa said the new factory has changed the landscape of the region with benefits like employment and proper management of forests.
He then assured the President that chiefs in Mzimba will continue to work with his administration for continued enhancement of development.
Meanwhile, the company is processing export quality products such as fireboards which were previously imported from China.
Raiply Malawi Limited and Raiply EPZ Limited belong to a group of companies operating in Eastern and Southern African countries having their headquarters in Kenya. It has more than 1, 400 employees in Malawi.