- The President stressed the need for Tanzania and Malawi to redouble their efforts through improving their respective business and investments conditions, saying this be done through the elimination of all the barriers to trade, including border crossing delays.
Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli said yesterday that his government considers Malawi a close partner in efforts to ensure sustainable development for the people of the two countries.
President Magufuli arrived in Malawi yesterday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Malawian counterpart, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika.
Accompanied by his wife Janet, President Magufuli and his entourage touched down at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe aboard an Air Tanzania Company Limited plane just before mid-day East African time.
“I have come here to cement the good relations which have existed between us for a long time,” said Dr Magufuli at a joint press conference.
“This relationship is of a historical background, and I consider my visit here to be very important because it’s my first visit to a Sadc country,” he said. The press conference was broadcast live by Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation.
President Magufuli said it was important for the two countries to redouble their efforts in improving their business and investment environments.
This, he said, could be done through the elimination of all trade barriers, including delays at their common border.
“In this respect, I’m aware that in 2014 our two countries signed an MoU to construct a one-stop border point at the Songwe-Kasumulu border, but its implementation has been very slow. It’s upon the relevant authorities to speed up implementation of this agreement,” said Dr Magufuli.
The President also touched on the issue of transport and infrastructure development, saying that apart from trade and investment, Tanzania and Malawi need to enhance cooperation on transport infrastructure development.
He argued that transport infrastructure was critical not only for trade and investment promotion, but also the growth of other sectors of the countries’ economies, including agriculture and tourism.
Building and improving infrastructure, added President Magufuli, was the top priority of his government.
“We are currently taking measures to expand and improve the efficiency of the (Dar es Salaam) port,” he said.
“We have started providing port services for 24 hours, seven days a week and have also introduced an electronic single window system,” he added.
He said the ongoing expansion of the Mtwara port was good news for Malawi because of the port’s proximity to the southern African country.
Dr Magufuli said once the expansion was completed, which is expected in August, the port would be able to handle a million tonnes of cargo annually compared to the current 400,000 tonnes.
“This will surely better serve Malawian businesspeople because they will no longer need to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam,” he said.
President Magufuli also spoke about the Songwe River Basin Development Programme, a project which entails the construction of three dams for the generation of 180MW of electricity. The project also aims at promoting irrigation and tourism.
But Dr Magufuli expressed his disappointment, saying that as was the case with many other joint projects, its implementation has been slow.
“And thus I urge our relevant authorities to speed up the implementation of this project whose completion will go a long way towards helping our two countries achieve socioeconomic development and transformation,” said the Head of State.