Stories written by Pilirani Semu-Banda

Trucks loaded with tobacco at Lilongwe auction floor. Credit: Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

TRADE-MALAWI: Turmoil as Tobacco Prices Fluctuate

Malawi’s tobacco industry has been in turmoil after wildly fluctuating prices led protesting farmers to force the closure of the auction floors.

TRADE-MALAWI: ”If EPAs Are So Good, Why Force Us to Sign?”

While the European Union (EU) has wanted a conclusion to the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) as soon as possible, the Malawian government has been staving off a deal.

DEVELOPMENT-MALAWI: Water Utility Over-Stretched and Under-Maintained

Long known as a peaceful and quiet city, especially at night, Blantyre is steadily losing its reputation for tranquility. Residents now find themselves waking up to the hustle and bustle of women carrying metal and plastic buckets as they move around the city most nights and early mornings in search of water.

Workers on a tea estate in Mulanje, southern Malawi. Credit: Pilirani Semu-Banda/IPS

TRADE-MALAWI: Tea Growers Devising Plans to Overcome Low Prices

Low prices continue to haunt Malawian tea on the auction floors, a bitter irony for some producers as the country is regarded as the pioneer of tea-growing in Africa.

TRADE-MALAWI: Caught Between Two Economic Blocs

Malawi finally has to face up to the dilemma of choosing between being a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) or to stick with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) if it is to continue receiving funding from the European Union (EU).

MALAWI: &#39&#39Trade Capacity Is Worse Despite Preferential Access&#39&#39

Malawians still await the details of the impending economic partnership agreement (EPA) which their government is entering into with the European Union (EU).

MALAWI: Crocodiles Make Fetching Water a Life Threatening Experience

Many communities around the world may take water for granted; but for those living along Malawi’s longest river, the Shire, water is something to die for. The 400 kilometre long river is the main outlet of Lake Malawi as it flows south into the Zambezi River.

Devil Street in Lilongwe is known for its foreign traders. Credit: Pilirani Semu-Banda

MALAWI: ”Foreign Traders Are Taking Our Jobs”

Foreigners working illegally as small-scale traders are increasingly being regarded as a threat to their local counterparts in Malawi. The outsiders are setting up businesses which, local Malawians believe, are displacing them.

TRADE-MALAWI: Coffee Industry Gets Brewing Again

Malawi’s coffee producers have come up with innovative plans to kick start the country’s sluggish coffee industry, including the marketing of specialty blends which are uniquely Malawian.

TRADE-AFRICA: COMESA States Urged to Drop Non-Tariff Barriers

Despite the reduction in trade tariffs within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), member states are still grappling with non-tariff barriers which restrict the flow of exports and imports. This is regarded as putting brakes on the improvement of trade volumes in the region.

EAST AFRICA: Why Women Remain Trapped in Informal Trade

In Malawi up to a quarter of all households are headed by women. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and some 80 percent of Malawians directly depend on this sector. With an average of six children per household, most women embark on small business ventures to supplement their income from agricultural activities.

A woman washes her baby in contaminated water, in Dowa. Credit: Pilirani Semu-Banda

DEVELOPMENT-MALAWI: Lack of Running Water Puts Girls&#39 Education at Risk

Rita Kalikokha of Dowa, a rural district in central Malawi, thinks about abandoning school every time she menstruates.

AFRICA: EPAs Clashing With Everything-But-Arms Trade Scheme?

The proposed economic partnership agreements (EPAs), which are due to come into force beginning next year, may undermine the benefits of another European Union trade initiative, called Everything-But-Arms, for the sugar industry.

POLITICS-MALAWI: Budget Held Hostage to Squabbling Parliamentarians

Malawi's national budget, scheduled to pass in June, is in limbo following a parliamentary impasse - and there are fears that government services may be halted through lack of funding.

TRADE-MALAWI: Government Joins Chorus of Concern about EPA

Manufacturers, exporters and even government officials in Malawi are jittery about January 1, 2008. On that day the economic partnership agreements (EPAs), currently being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and six groupings of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, will come into force.

MALAWI: Informal Trade Crucial For Job Creation

Every day a bus, usually packed to capacity, leaves Malawi for South Africa. Most of the passengers are traders, off to sell wooden curios in the main South African cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

ECONOMY-MALAWI: Uranium Mining Sparks Controversy

Malawi will have its first-ever modern mining project located in the northern town of Kayelekera in Karonga by early next year if plans by an Australian mining company, Paladin (Africa) Limited, are successful. In April this year, the Malawi government granted the mining company a licence to exploit up to 34,5 million tons of uranium.

MALAWI: ”All-Day Electricity”-As Long As It Is Not Peak Time

Patients have over many years frequently been denied scheduled surgical operations at the Holy Family Hospital in Malawi’s southern region due to abrupt power cuts.

TRADE-MALAWI: Clothing and Textiles Become Unstitched

Following the liberalization of the global trade in textiles and clothing between 1994 and 2005, Malawi has seen an influx of second-hand clothing on the local market. But while consumers have been happily buying cheap items on almost every street corner, the country's textile industry has been steadily collapsing.

ENERGY-MALAWI: Technology to Save Forests

Malawi's utilisation of energy resources is heavily dominated by firewood, which provides 93 percent of all energy needs. Current annual household consumption of firewood and charcoal are at 7.5 million tons, exceeding sustainable supply by 3.7 million tons.

TRADE: Malawi-South Africa Agreement ”Will Attract Investors”

The Malawian government is optimistic that its new economic and technical cooperation agreement with South Africa will finally draw investors from its mighty neighbour.

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