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Transcript of speech by Ambassador Edward Sawerengera at the Malawi – Us Convention in Atlanta

 

Mr Kantilal Desai Looks on as Ambassador Edward Sawerengera receives a GIFT from Group

 

It is a great honour for me to be here with you today and as the invitation letter that was sent to me said, share with you on how you can help brothers and sisters in Malawi.

I understand that this is your first convention and I am happy to be part of such a historic event.

We (As Malawi Embassy to the US) also had the first Malawi Diaspora Conference in Washington DC last month on September 29th. We had Malawians from all over the USA attend the Conference and it was a successful and memorable event. The two Rhama brothers attended the Conference. They had a chance to speak a few words to the attendees and they were very inspiring.

I did not attend the conference though. However, Ambassador Ligoya presided over the conference on my behalf and did a great job.

I am glad you invited both of us to attend this function.

Your Excellency Ligoya, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

When I got the invitation letter it mentioned that there would be 100 former residents of Malawi now living in the USA  who will be attending this conference and that their interest is to meet me to meet me and discuss how they can contribute to the socio economic development of Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa.

 

Before I state how you can be doing this, let me thank you for remembering where you are coming from. It is a great gesture which I can hardly take for granted. Many people do not look back to where they come from. The mere fact that you remembered to gather and think about Malawi, is a very commendable feat that cannot go unnoticed.  Thank you very much.

 

Your Excellency Ambassador Ligoya, Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Let me now share with you areas that need attention in Malawi. There are many areas that  require assistance but I will focus on three: thus health, education and agriculture.

 

The health system in Malawi is well structured but there is need to intervene in the provision of drugs, ambulances and basic hospital consumables.

As you may be aware, ladies and gentlemen, all public hospitals in Malawi are free. That means government is expected to provide for the infrastructure, equipment, personnel and drugs to ensure that everyone has access to health facilities.

 

Health personnel are critically low and cannot manage to reach out to everyone in the community. Online provision of health services can greatly assist to reduce the burden on health personnel in Malawi. We need doctors who can offer their expertise through the internet or phone. This can be combined with medical missions to Malawi. Malawi Government is ready to support any missions that decide to go and work in Malawi by providing them with accommodation and transportation.

 

The second way to assist in the health sector is through provision of equipment. Most equipment in Malawi is outdated and inadequate. We will provide you with specific needs for the major hospitals, after consulting with the Ministry and decide what you can contribute.

 

The third way would be to provide ambulances especially for people in the rural areas. People are dying from preventable diseases because they cannot get to the hospital in time. I see a lot of ambulances in the USA and someone said people here die because they cannot get to the hospital in time due to traffic. In Malawi it is due to lack of ambulances. If we get a few ambulances they could save a lot of lives.

 

The fourth way is provision of drugs. I understand that many people are worried when they hear about this because they associate lack of drugs to corruption. Malawi Government is doing a lot to curb corruption. A lot of people had been stealing drugs and selling them on the street or in private hospitals. The process to stop this malpractice is still going on. The good thing is that even the public has realized that people who sell drugs on the street are stealing from government coffers and they are either reporting them to authorities or not buying their drugs.

 

Your Excellency Ambassador Ligoya, Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to address issues in education now.

 

The teacher pupil education ratio is a matter of concern in the sector. We need to train more teachers immediately. If we can have sponsorship for teacher training colleges, that would go a long way in addressing this issue.

 

The second way to assist is provision of laboratories (computer and science) and libraries in secondary schools. Because of the introduction of the free primary secondary education in 1994, secondary school intake increased tremendously in the years that followed. There was need to increase the number of secondary schools and this resulted in the mushrooming of community day secondary schools. Most of which do not have science and computer laboratories which makes the teaching of science a great challenge. A nation that is not learning science gets left behind in the global community. Everything is going digital. Young people need to be well trained in order to participate effectively in the global community. Providing a few laboratories would therefore be a great way of improving the education standards in Malawi.

 

The third area is the provision of classroom blocks, desks, and other learning materials like text books and exercise books. Many schools in the rural and urban areas have inadequate classrooms and rural schools do not have desks and students text books.

 

The fourth area to assist is through provision of scholarships for higher education. I understand the Rahma Brothers alluded to the fact that they would be providing scholarships to Malawian students to study in India. I look forward to that being materialized. Online education can also go a long way to have more students to access higher education. Thus there would be need to build education centers in Malawi and link them to Indian or American Universities.

 

The four public universities partnered with the University of Auburn on a project to establish an online learning and the project will result in University intake being increased significantly.

 

In agriculture, Your Excellency Ambassador Ligoya, Ladies and Gentlemen, the areas to focus on would be mechanization and provision of farm inputs.

 

Agriculture productivity is still low in Malawi because of the use of old methods of farming. We are still using the hoe and handle to farm. And very small hectarage is under irrigating.

 

Mechanization and irrigaction can significantly  boost productivity. This could mainly be through supplying tractors and other agro-implements to improve the output of smallholders farmers.

 

Provision of farm inputs is another way of boosting farm productivity. Government operates the farm input subsidy but it is not enough. Any efforts to compliment the system would be very helpful. It does not have to be for the whole nation, but it can be done to a few areas in Malawi.

 

Government is doing a lot to assist but as you may understand our resource base is very shallow while the needs of the community keep growing. The population of Malawi is now around nineteen million and we will soon be hitting twenty million.

It is therefore important, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we join hands and assist in whatever way we can, whether it means one person choosing to assist one family with agricultural inputs or school requirements or as a group choosing a project to work on.

 

Once again, thank you for inviting me to share with you some areas that you can help in Malawi. I do not take this for granted and I thank you all for your attention.

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