Sino-Africa Deal: Why Has Malawi Announced New $50 Million China-Funded Road?

dual carriage road
Credit: Construction Review Online

Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Sidik Mia, has announced the government’s plans to construct a  $50 million dual carriage road from Lilongwe to Kasungu. The minister said this in an interview when President Chakwera toured the Area 18 interchange project, which is near to be completed.

Mia said construction works for the dual carriageway will be funded by the Chinese government grant and is expected to commence soon, citing that the project was a further indication of the country’s “friendship” with China. “ Increased traffic on our roads requires an appropriate response, such as the road construction projects the government will be undertaking,” allafrica.com reported. 

The Minister in the interview further hinted that the government has also “secured K20 billion support from the Japanese Government to construct a dual carriage from Crossroads Hotel to Bunda Turn-Off through Lilongwe central business area, which will, among others, have modern bridges” and a six-lane carriage from the Parliament roundabout to Shoprite, which the government plans to be funded by European Investment Bank. 

In 2009, China’s Exim Bank pledged to provide a $65 million USD loan to Malawi towards the construction of a modern national stadium in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. Figures from Malawi’s Ministry of Trade indicate that China’s trade volume with Malawi has reached $ 500 million since diplomatic ties were established. In 2016, Malawi imported goods and services worth $ 303 million from China while it exported goods and services worth $ 55 million. Malawi’s announcement, however, comes at the back of a recent report that Kenya’s $3.2 billion (Sh323.20 billion) China-funded and constructed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has recorded a combined operating loss of Sh21.68 billion in the three years to May.  According to Business Daily, “a report to Parliament by the Transport ministry revealed that the China-built railway netted Sh25.03 billion in revenue over the period against operational costs totaling Sh46.71 billion — a gap that taxpayers have to plug. The operating loss has already caused the Kenya Railways Company (KRC) to default on an estimated Sh40 billion payout to China’s Africa Star Railway Operation Company, which runs both passenger and cargo services on the SGR.”

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