Malawi is the latest beneficiary of two regional integration projects expected to spur the leather and textile industry in the country. These are: a state of the art Leather Design Studio and a Garments and Textiles Incubation Center.
Both projects have been funded by the European Union under the COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) at a total cost of $ 465,000. The studio took $375,000 and the incubation centre $90,000.
The launching ceremony was led by Malawian Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Mr. Henry Mussa, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Dr Kipyego Cheluget and EU representative Mr. Jose-Maria Medina Navarro. It was attended by Senior Government officials, Members of the Diplomatic corps and the public.
The Leather Design Studio managed by Malawi Enterprise Productivity Enhancement project (MEPE) is in Chileka area while the Incubation centre is located at the Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre is managed by the Malawi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
Speaking during the launch, Minister Mussa aid the leather and garment and textile sectors have the potential to grow exponentially as Malawi is well endowed with the much-needed raw materials for the sectors. He called on the SMEs in Malawi to take advantage of the modern equipment provided under the project.
“Now you do not have an excuse for not supporting the Buy Malawi campaign spearheaded by the President, because you have what it takes to produce quality in large quantities,” the Minister implored the SMEs.
In his remarks, Dr Cheluget described the launch of the facilities as a game changer, which should spearhead a revolution in the Leather and garment sectors in Malawi and the region at large.
He said incubation process is an integral package of technical assistance, facilities, and mechanisms of support, counseling and training which are provided to a group of entrepreneurs who wish to set up their small enterprises with the purpose of minimizing the burden of start-up stage.
“Today, we see a classic example of such success of this incubation process and this should kick start the revolution in the sector,” Dr Cheluget and appreciated the EU for its continued support.
“It is in this context that we are soon going to leverage this support under the 11 EDF through a sub envelop of 85 Million Euro to support Trade facilitation, Cross-border trade as well enhancing capacity of the SMEs and private sector. Indeed, we appreciate your partnership and collaboration with our Member States.”
Meanwhile, the European Union Commission has proposed the total financial envelope for Africa to be raised from the current 32.5 billion Euros for the budgetary framework of 2014 – 2020 to 40 Billion Euros for the next budgetary framework of 2021-2027.
Mr Jose-Maria Medina Navarro who represented the EU Ambassador to Malawi Her Excellency Sanrda Paesen, indicated that the EU has further proposed to mobilise additional grant for blending instruments of about €4.1 Billion and private sector investments in Africa to €44 Billion by 2020.