A few days, I stumbled on a 2008 report on a case study on Chinese investment in Malawi. Much as report was done almost a year after the Southern Africa country dumped its long time friend, Taiwan, for Beinjing; it makes an interesting mirror into whether landrocked Warm Heart of Africa is getting a fair deal from the Eastern friend.
For example, in 2006 alone Mainland China exported into Malawi a total of MwK3.6billion worth of its products while Malawi exported a meagre MwK173million of its products like tobacco, tea, coffee and timber etc to China. But that is on the surface of it. In the same year 2006, Malawi’s total exports to the world stood at MwK90.9billion; meaning that what our country exported to China was a mere 0.19%.
Accoring to the study, by April 2008 the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA) had registered 50 Chinese firms as investors in Malawi. The sad part is that, by the time of the report almost half of these were either reported to have shut down or changed physical addresses without the knowledge of MIPA as required.
Since May 13 2008 when Malawi and China signed the Memorandum of Understanding after the establishing diplomatic ties in December 2007, one major Chinese promise is yet to be fulfilled: the famous Karonga-Chitipa road. And at the time of the report, ‘no tangible aid has been transferred from mainland China to Malawi except a mere pledge of aid amounting to US$ 270 million for a period of five years which is yet to be disbursed’. This pledge is incomparable to the actual amounts that the GoM has been receiving annually as aid from multi-lateral and bilateral official development assistance (ODA).
Is Lilongwe really benefiting from Beijing?
Further read the study here: Study on Chinese Investments in Africa- The Case of Malawi