Lots of excitement about Malawi - Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said "there has been such a lot of excitement" about Malawi because of the kind of leadership President Joyce Banda has shown.
"This has come about because of the leadership she has shown," Blair said at the beginning of his two-day official visit to Malawi Thursday evening at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
"There is an enormous amount of hope and expectation. These are challenging times, difficult times of course."
Blair, who heads the Africa Governance Initiative, said he was ready to assist Malawi in whatever way he could.
"I want to put it on record my admiration and respect for the way she has set about her task and if we can help in any way it will be a great delight for us," he said.
President Banda said she told the former British premier that her government has put in place a recovery plan "to deal with challenges of political and economic governance" that her government inherited.
"My government has decided to promote a private sector-led economic growth," she said.
Banda assured Blair that her government will ensure "stability in political governance and democracy as well as my government's commitment to respect for rule of law, and freedoms and rights as enshrined in our Constitution."
On Friday Blair addressed an "Investment Roundtable discussion" with various business captains in Blantyre, in the southern region of Malawi.
"I had very good discussions with Her Excellency President Joyce Banda and the Minister of Industry and Trade [John Bande]. The purpose of my initiative is to support government in the process of change and development.
"The development programme being set out by Malawi has possibilities, the only difficulty is turning it into action and that is where AGI will be of assistance on what must be done quickly and how that must be done. Our purpose is not to tell governments what to do but provide some technical expertise to help," said Blair.
He said Malawi has enormous development potential in agriculture, tourism, mining, energy, infrastructure which requires attracting the right investors.
"This is why I was with the chamber of commerce to find out from them what they need to help create jobs, prosperity and growth for the people in Malawi. The only way to grow an economy sustainably is through a strong private sector and you need the government and public sector to provide infrastructure such as roads, electricity and so on but the private sector must have government on its side," said Blair.
MCCCI president Matthews Chikankheni said the AGI would be key to the success of local businesses since Malawi has massive opportunities waiting to be exploited, "...but we falter on the way because good governance eludes us".