International donors promise aid for Malawi

Malawi's President Joyce Banda. (AFP)

Malawi's President Joyce Banda. (AFP)

Tuesday's announcement marked the latest sign of the impoverished nation's improving fortunes.

The World Bank unveiled a $110-million package for roads, farms and health care, while Britain added about $37-million to its earlier $47-million aid scheme to shore up the economy.

Under the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, most donors had suspended aid saying they were concerned about his governance and disregard for democratic rights.

Since his death in April, new President Joyce Banda has embarked on economic reforms, moved to repeal repressive laws and improve ties with donors.

Sandra Bloemenkamp, World Bank country manager for Malawi, said much of its money would go toward fighting HIV.

"Although Malawi is making progress in reducing adult HIV prevalence, at 10.6%, it still remains one of the highest in the world," she said. "This project will help the national response to HIV and AIDS, and the priority objective of reducing the number of new HIV infections."

The bank will also help improve roads to expand transport for farmers.

UK minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said the new aid from London would also help the Southern African nation's health services and support a popular farm subsidy programme.

He said that Britain wants Malawi, which gets 40% of its budget cash from donors, to "migrate from aid dependency to trade".

"Currently, our two-way trade is worth £58.5-million ($91-million) per annum, and the balance of trade is in Malawi's favour. My ambition is to see that figure doubled, with Malawi gaining more through trade than aid," he said.

He said he wants to see British firms invest in the former colony, "training people and transferring skills, expertise and technology". – AFP

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