They have them in most developed countries, and there is no reason why Malawi shouldn’t have a few.
For example did you know that Parpública, the Portuguese behemoth founded in 2000 and with assets worth US$13 billion, and which owns Air Portugal is a state-owned enterprise?
In the quest to find alternative solutions of economic development, the very first thing our country needs, maybe besides a mindset change, is to raise significant amounts of Capital.
This can be done in a number of ways, but probably one of the best ways is by issuing Sovereign Bonds. Using Sovereign bonds can lessen the debt burden on Malawi, and prevent the country ending up in the debt mess spiral that countries like Zambia and Angola have found themselves in.
This is because aside from the fact that the government would set the terms and conditions of the Sovereign Bonds issuance, it would also allow domestic Investors to invest and would not disproportionately make the country beholden to a foreign financier, private or public.
The reason we need such Capital is to make large strategic investments into infrastructure and equipment, which with proper planning and execution can enable Malawi to manufacture certain products which our people need most (domestic market), but also for foreign markets, and for which we have a steady and affordable supply of raw materials.
So for example, we can use such Capital to buy a refinery to manufacture Ethanol for use in the Pharmaceutical industry and in alcoholic beverages, and for use as an additive in Vehicle fuels, by expanding and starting one or two additional sugar plantations and processing plants as the ones they have in Dwangwa and Nchalo, in a similar rural area. The ethanol product can also be exported to neighbouring countries cheaply undercutting their current supply chains, but creating a new revenue stream for the Government.
The waste products from the sugar plantations (bagasse https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/bagasse ) can be used as a biofuel, reducing our country’s over-reliance on firewood – which is worsening deforestation situation in Malawi, and is responsible for the numerous floods we experience almost every year.
Similarly, a large Sheet Metal Fabrication factory could be established to manufacture Iron sheets for roof houses (malata) to be used to supply hardware stores across the country.
Both the Sheet Metal Factory and the new Sugar Processing Plant would create employment for thousands of Malawians, and can be scaled intonmuch bigger operations if required. New and organised dwellings and townships can then be created around them.
This is one way of creating large state owned corporations that can give jobs to thousands of citizens, creating employment across the country.
There would be other added benefits, such as more equitable spreading of the prosperity of the cities into the rural areas, decongesting the cities of traffic, and reducing migration to cities – as more working-age people would choose to live closer to these rural factories – where they can find jobs.
Finally, it would accelerate the provision of decent housing, water, sanitation, communications, energy and transportation infrastructure to the rural areas – factors which would contribute to the fight against poverty.
The Secret to successful state-owned enterprises is how they’re run (The Conversation)
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