22 January 2020
From aid to trade - via investment in Malawi
The President of the Republic of Malawi, Professor Peter Mutharika, was in London this week attending the UK-Africa investment summit. On Tuesday 21 January, he came to SOAS and after visiting the Brunei Gallery and the Library, he spoke to an audience of diplomats, academics, students and business people on “Moving an African Society from Poverty to Prosperity : Challenges and Opportunities.” The President focussed on the importance of investment in enabling Malawi and other African nations move from aid to trade. He welcomed international interest in investing in Africa and identified skills training as the sector in greatest demand in Malawi. He spoke of a 16 year old single mother who attended a community technical college, trained as a bricklayer and is now a foreperson.
In a lively Q&A chaired by Valerie Amos, he was asked about the legal challenge to his re-election and pressed on his views of leaders who extend beyond their second term of office. On this last point he emphasised the importance of respecting the constitution and the role of the African Union in encouraging good governance. Asked for his personal view he responded: "I strongly believe after two terms, one should pave the way for others. "
The President's own aim is to leave office with Malawi a happier place than he found it five years ago. His specific goals include, for all children to attend secondary school and for the hundreds of thousands of subsistence farmers to have the opportunity to sell their produce.