Malawi’s President: There’s room for both China, US to invest in Malawi

Global Business

Just two months into his presidency, Malawi President Peter Mutharika returned to the nation where he taught commercial law for decades to attend the U.S.-Africa Leader Summit in Washington D.C.

Now surrounded by the continent’s longest running leaders, Mutharika reflected on the summit with CCTV America’s White House Correspondent, Jessica Stone this week.

Peter Mutharika welcomes both China, US to invest in Malawi

Just two months into his presidency, Malawi President Peter Mutharika returned to the nation where he taught commercial law for decades to attend the U.S. Africa Leader Summit in Washington D.C. Now surrounded by the continent's longest running leadersk, Mutharika reflected on the summit with CCTV White House Correspondent, Jessica Stone this week.

Mutharika says his career as a law professor prepared him to have a sense of balance, a knack for detail and judgment based in experience.

He says he came to Washington D.C. with an expectation of the White House.

“Obviously that the U.S. wants to improve,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that the President (Barack Obama) is completely committed to Africa. He wants to improve Africa. He sees it as the future, a new frontier really with tremendous potential and he would like the U.S. to be part of this process.”

He sees the Obama administration’s Power Africa private/public partnership to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa as a key initiative, that’s “very exciting.”

“Power is the key. You see, without power, how is our economy going to expand”

In the first two days of the August summit, Mutharika says he met with many American investment companies that work in food processing, infrastructure and tourism. He promised to provide the incentives and physical security that investors desire.

Mutharika says Malawi already has a one stop center where startup companies can get certificates and licenses to operate without going to multiple offices.

He says he’d like to reduce the wait times for businesses to receive their licenses: “We’d like to reduce the period of getting a license from 30 to 5 days for example,” he said. “If you are slow, you see, they will go somewhere else.”

He also noted that the nation needs more five star hotels, pledging to send tourism attaches to markets in China, the U.S., and the U.K.

“I know people from western countries. They look on the Internet, and if it’s not a five star hotel, they will not go to that country.”

Chinese, Americans not alone in Malawi Investment

Mutharika says Chinese investment in Malawi is everywhere from “infrastructure, roads, university, stadium, a hotel, and hospitality.”
He describes the types of investors Malawi attracts as “friends,” characterizing Malawi’s ‘old’ friends as the U.S., France and Germany, its ‘new’ friends as China and Japan, and its ‘newest’ friends as India and Brazil.

The biggest investment in Malawi so far was actually a $1 billion dollar railroad investment by Brazilian company, Vale SA.

Mutharika says the comparisons between Chinese commitment to investment in African nations and the relatively new interest by the U.S. was the subject of frequent conversation at the summit.

“It’s hard to compare these things. How do you compare a building…with someone providing medicine to cure HIV patients, or malaria medication or equipment like an MRI,” he said, noting that 80 percent of the nation’s healthcare services are provided through U.S. aid or materials. “How do you compare the two? You really cannot.”