Recently, even as reported in the papers, government has embarked on the construction of stadiums in some districts including Thyolo, Mzimba, and Ntcheu which will collectively cost more than MK13 billion.
What I have noted with concern however is that some people are criticizing government for the construction of stadiums claiming that the stadiums are not a priority and not really necessarily. Some of the people making these claims are economists, which concerns me further.
You see, when we get too political, we blind ourselves from looking at matters of economic development from the big picture.
The construction of such huge budget stadiums, is as important to the economy as the construction of other mega infrastructure projects like roads, big hotels, bridges and the like because they are a means not only to development but also economic recovery.
In much of the history of the world, since early in the past century, great countries like the USA and European countries have had their own experience of depressions and bad economy.
For instance, we have the historic great depression in the USA between 1929 and 1933 and also the collapse of economies in Western Europe after second world war which ended 1945. These are some of worst economic times for the USA and Europe.
But the question is how did the USA and Europe recover from such hard times? How these countries managed to recover has always been a source of economic theories and models, for developmental economics. Not only that. Economic institutions have also, at some point, attempted to use such models for the economic development of poor countries in Africa.
The answer to the question is that both, the USA and Europe recovered from economic crises by injecting more money into the economy through mega infrastructure development. President Franklin Roosevelt ensured that government embarked on big construction projects while in the post-world war 2, the USA helped the devastated empires of Europe by injecting a lot of money into Europe through the Marshal Plan which aimed at rebuilding the infrastructure of Europe.
My point is that we must never forget to look at the big picture of economic implications of government projects much as we like to focus on the politics involved. Such huge-budget infrastructure like stadiums, stimulates economic activities by bringing money back into the economy, reduce unemployment rate through creation of jobs and businesses, etc.
And there is also the spill-over effect whereby other problems which we think government should priorities to solve, also get automatically solved in the process. For example, a husband who get employed at the construction site or does his business there, gets paid and buys fertilizer to cultivate food for his family. Or he starts a small scale irrigation garden (dimba) and feeds his household. Or buys a solar panel and powers his house. In that process, the farming and irrigation and blackout problems (at household level) are also addressed indirectly through the stadium project.
These are the spillovers that we ignore but are an economic reality which explains how great countries in the developed world managed to recover their economies through infrastructure development which might have otherwise been considered not priorities.
So if you ask me, I will tell you that the construction of the stadiums, is a good economic development initiative for our country because economies work in mysterious ways.