Malawi: World Bank Rides On Tonse Alliance's Job Creation Mantra

The gods of Tonse Alliance administration must be smiling as The World Bank Group's (WBG) Board of Executive Directors announced yesterday in Washington that it has discussed the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Malawi, which supports the creation of more jobs.

The new CPF which will guide the World Bank Group's work over the next five years in support of Malawi's national priorities as set out in Malawi Vision 2063 also discussed the strengthening of human capital, and supporting foundations for economic growth and accountability.

A statement issued by the bank quotes Felix Mlusu, Malawi's Minister of Finance saying COVID-19 has slowed the country's economy.

"Investments are needed that can stimulate economic recovery and to our vision of reaching lower-middle-income status by 2030. This requires a solid foundation - and we are very optimistic that over the next five years the World Bank Group will help us to strengthen those foundations by supporting our reform agenda and investing in key sources of growth," he said.

The CPF is a joint strategy of the three members of the World Bank Group (WBG): International Development Association (IDA), also known as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is focused on the private sector in developing countries, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and International Development Association (MIGA), which provides political risk insurance to private sector investors and lenders.

The CPF's three strategic focus areas includes bolstering foundations for growth and accountability; promoting private sector-led jobs and livelihoods; and strengthening human capital development.

"In addition," the statement says, "digital development and women's empowerment are integrated as cross-cutting themes."

The CPF has been informed by extensive consultations with a broad range of stakeholders in Malawi including government, civil society, and development partners.

According to Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe their program will consolidate World Bank Group investments where they can make an impact.

"Particularly in opening new opportunities for commercial agriculture and in ensuring women are empowered to participate fully in the economy," he said before adding:

"This is a pivotal moment for Malawi and the World Bank Group is renewing its support for the country. We welcome the renewed focus on tackling governance challenges. Strengthening of accountability and transparency is a foundation for growth."

The statement says the CPF comes at a time when lives and livelihoods are impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and therefore it will support Malawi's COVID-19 health response and enable affordable and equitable access to vaccines in the immediate term and to support health systems strengthening in over the medium term.

The CPF is also set also guide the Bank's support for a resilient recovery, through continued support to Malawi's Social Cash Transfer Program and to the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC's Regional Director for Eastern Africa stated that their advisory and investment services will focus on developing renewable energy and ICT infrastructure, increasing agricultural productivity, and supporting crop diversification, and boosting inclusive finance.

"This will be crucial to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to support Malawi's long-term growth," he said.

During the 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections campaign rallies, Tonse Alliance leaders criss-crossed the country promising to deliver 1 million jobs.

President Lazarus Chakwera, however backtracked on this campaign promise last year when he spoke during his 100 days in office that his government can only employ 200 000 people.

He had conceded that government could not create jobs on its own and needed the private sector's help.

The one million campaign promise was a major talking point for the Tonse Alliance that was elected in a repeat presidential poll.

The World Bank's CPF arrangement with Chakwera's government might prove critics wrong as they kept said the alliance had no job creation plan but was only chanting the mantra to hoodwink voters.

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