|December 16, 2004
Four countries launch integration initiative
Four southern African countries, namely Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, have signed an agreement on the launch of the Mtwara Development Corridor, an initiative that aims to boost development through improved integration of infrastructure. President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Tanzania's Benjamin Mkapa appended their signatures to the agreement at a historic ceremony held in Lilongwe.
The Mtwara Development Corridor initiative, conceived as early as in 1998, was launched to promote trade and investment in the four neighbouring countries by improving and integrating roads, electricity and other infrastructure. Projects identified under the initiative include a bridge spanning 600 meters across Ruvuma River at Mtambaswala Negomaro onthe Tanzania/Mozambique border, an oil pipeline from Mtwara on theTanzanian coast to Mbamba Bay on Lake Malawi near the border of Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Other projects include the interconnection of power grids of Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, and the construction of a road from Karonga in Malawi to Chitipa on the Zambia/Malawi border, and thenstretching along the Zambia/Tanzania border from Nakonde to Mpulungu.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Zambian president Mwanawasa said the Mtwara Development Corridor initiative was line with the Southern African Development Community's policy of promoting cross-border trade through the integration of transport networks. He was also quoted as saying that the initiative would benefit Zambia's Eastern, Northern and Luapula provinces by promoting the development of local agriculture, fishery, tourism and mining sectors.
Host President Bingu wa Mutharika stressed that the success of the corridor would largely depend on strong private sector participation. For the corridor to be meaningful to the people of the four nations, he said that there was a need to remove bottlenecks that hindered the flow of economic activity between the four countries. He pledged his country's full commitment to the initiative, saying that Malawi would play its part in ensuring that the initiative made positive contribution towards better lives for people in the region.