LILONGWE (Muchanakhwaye Khwepeya, Malawi NewsNow )- Former governing Peoples Party (PP) has claimed Joyce Banda is the one who negotiated with China for a new round of cooperation amounting to $1.5 billion (about K855 billion) in various sectors, including increasing power generation capacity by 300 megawatts (MW) and construction of a modern Chileka International Airport within three years which President Peter Mutharika on announced Wednesday .
PP spokesman Mr Ken Msonda said former president Banda met the Chinese vice president in June 2013 where she “initiated all these projects” under Economic RecoverY Programme.
But Minister of Information, Mr Jappie Mhango dismissed PP claims as “nonsensical”.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe, Mutharika said the projects have been agreed upon following a meeting that the team led by Minister of Industry and Trade Mr Joseph Mwanamvekha attended on the seven priority projects from October 10 to 12 in Beijing, China.
However, of the seven projects only three are grants totaling $58 million (K33 billion) for the construction of the Blantyre District Hospital and Cancer Centre in Blantyre.
The Blantyre District Hospital is set to be built at Kameza on the site where the abandoned Muammar Gaddafi Hospital Project was. The project was supposed to be funded by the government of Libya over 10 years ago.
Mutharika said unlike support from the Western countries , “there are no conditions at all attached to these projects. “
He said they are “ soft loans and grants” to be financed by Exim Bank of China while most would be implemented by China Gezhouba Group Company Limited.
Mutharika said the Chinese government had approved for immediate implementation three projects, namely the 300MW Kam’mwamba coal-fired power plant with a project cost of $667 million (about K387 billion).<
“The project will produce an additional 300MW of power and we can say goodbye to blackouts. It will take three years to complete and I appeal to the people of Neno to give the project all the support as it will also benefit the people there with jobs,” said Mutharika.
The other projects are the E-Government (National Identity) project to lay fibre optic cables for increased Internet connectivity amounting to $50 million (about K29 billion) and the Chileka International Airport project to the tune of $285 million (about K165 billion).
Among the grants which China has made is $2 million (about K1.1 billion) for the procurement of police for the Malawi Police Service, construction of a technical teacher’s training college costing $5 million (about K2.8 billion) and construction of community technical colleges costing $6 million.
Under the grants, China will also support technical services for the Bingu National Stadium for $1 million (K570 million), construction of a new Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation building amounting to $3 million and procurement of office equipment and furniture for the Ministry of Industry and Trade amounting to $1 million.
Malawi and China established diplomatic ties in 2007 following Lilongwe’s switch from Taipei in the Republic of China to Beijing.