Mutharika does not regard Malawi as "land-locked" anymore due to the new port. Through cross-border trade the new harbour will also benefit other countries in the region, he added. These include Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Malawi has a port. It is called the Nsanje World Inland Port. It connects Malawi, via the Shire and Zambezi Rivers and is also known as the Shire-Zambezi Waterway. The cost of building the port was 3.9 billion dollars but it is expected to save hundreds of millions in import and export costs, stimulate growth and revitalise the area around the port. Malawi is a poor country. This could make a huge difference.
It's also a really interesting infrastructural development for the region and reportedly "has the potential of reducing transportation costs by 50 percent across the region."
The only minor niggle is that Mozambique appears less than happy. Not only did Mozambique fail to attend the inauguration of the port, they wouldn't allow the trial run by a barge carrying fertilizer that was supposed to mark the occasion. Apparently, "another challenge was Mozambique was calling for an environmental and economic viability study before navigation of the Zambezi River is allowed". Given that the Shire-Zambezi Waterway only reaches the ocean by going through Mozambique, this could prove to be a problem, although it seems unlikely that Mozambique has sufficient clout to make it an insurmountable one. This is not the first time Malawi proposed developments affecting Mozambique without talking to Mozambique first.
Other than this minor hitch, it seems to be a positive development.
And now for the inevitable Mugabe quote, just to make it official:
"Other countries in the world want to think for us. They do not want us to think for ourselves.
"They critise projects like this one that are of our own thinking . . .They put NGOs here, NGOs there even though we do not need them. NGOs even want to teach (President Bingu) waMutharika how to run his country. That, we should be worry about . . .They become dangerous creatures among us and beware of them. Those that are good that want to work with us let them come like the Portuguese company (Motal Engil) that constructed the port," he said to thunderous applause.