Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan arrives in Malawi Monday at the start of a two-day official visit.
Reports quoting Malawian Foreign Minister Ephraim Nganda Chiume say the two countries are expected to sign two treaties on trade and economy, and exchange human resources during Jonathan’s visit.
Rafiq Hajat, executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction in Malawi, said what the Malawian economy needs the most is fuel, which is being sold at the moment at 580 kwachas, or $1.60 per liter.
“Historically, there has not been much trade, commerce or any real linkage between Nigeria and Malawi because of the distance involved and the logistical nightmare in trying to get goods across between the two countries. However, that is not to say that Nigeria would not be in the position to be a big brother to Malawi, especially in terms of fuel, because that’s one area where Malawi is desperate and starving for a source of reasonably priced supply,” he said.
Hajat said the high cost of fuel affects the delivery of all services.
“At the moment, inflation is running at about 60 percent, and 1.5 million people are facing starvation in Malawi this year. Of course, if you raise the price of fuel by 10 percent, the cost of transport of essential goods goes up by 20 percent,” Hajat said.
Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati in Nigeria said, while in Malawi, Jonathan will also participate in a Nigeria-Malawi business forum and launch Malawi’s National Cassava Project.
Hajat said Malawi also desperately needs capacity building in agriculture.
“We have some of the most fertile soil in Africa. We have abundant water resources and yet 1.6 million people are facing starvation this year. Something is seriously wrong,” Hajat said.
Reports from Nigeria said Jonathan will also meet with Nigerians living in Malawi before traveling to Gaborone, Botswana Tuesday for talks with President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.