Malawi city project includes $25 million hotel aimed at attracting conference and other business
A Chinese investor is putting up a business park to include a new $25 million hotel in Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi.
The investor is betting that the Sogecoa Business Park, which will include a five-star hotel, a recreation center with a casino and a shopping mall and cinema, will revive the city as a regional trade hub.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika (left) being briefed about the project in Blantyre, Malawi on Dec 19. Moses Michael-Phiri / For China Daily
According to Xia Fang, vice-president of Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co, the project, scheduled for completion in December, will make Blantyre a bigger year-round attraction for conference tourism, commercial business and family entertainment.
He says the company plans to invest $75 million in another business park and a shopping center in Lilongwe, the country's capital.
"Malawi is a true friend of China and has for the past 10 years offered us a good environment to invest. We are ready to invest more in this peaceful country, known as the Warm Heart of Africa," says Xia.
The two projects are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs, according to Henry Mussa, the country's minister of trade, industry and tourism.
Alfred Joabe, a lecturer on commerce at the Catholic University of Malawi, says foreign direct investment such as that made by Chinese investors needs to be recognized as a crucial catalyst to spur economic growth, especially for developing economies like Malawi.
"China and many other leading economies today have joined the elite club of the developed world by promoting and supporting the flow of FDI into the developing world. They hope that such flows will uplift the livelihood of many poor people," he says.
Malawian President Peter Mutharika shares similar sentiments. Speaking on Dec 19 while commissioning the project in Blantyre, he said the project would boost the country's tourism sector and create many job opportunities for the country's young people.
Mutharika said the business park and the hotel will modernize Blantyre.
"The development progress of Blantyre stalled for some time, but now the time has come for it to grow again. Investments such as these are good for any economy, for they create wealth and jobs for the youth and other residents," he said.
He hinted that there are a number of Chinese government-funded infrastructure developments in the pipeline, including a 186-kilometer ring road in Blantyre, rehabilitation of Chileka International Airport - Malawi's second-largest - and construction of a new national stadium.
Among achievements of China-Malawi cooperation are construction of the Malawi Parliament building, Bingu National Stadium, Karonga-Chitipa Road in the northern region, the Bingu Conference Center and Hotel, Malawi University of Science and Technology and the presidential villas.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Shiting believes China is one of the biggest foreign direct investors in Malawi: "This year marks the 10th anniversary of relations between Malawi and China. The development achievements between the two countries over these 10 years are visible for all to see.
"With the new hotel project in Blantyre, I am sure more people will come to visit Malawi, and in the end, the county's economy will grow. Other than that, Blantyre will change. We encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Malawi, as there are a lot of opportunities," he says.