Saturday, April 4, 2009

Malawi’s Economy Grew 9.7% in 2008 on Better Harvest, IMF Says

By Frank Jomo - April 1 (Bloomberg)

Malawi’s economy expanded 9.7 percent last year on higher tobacco sales, an improved harvest and growth in the telecommunications industry, the International Monetary Fund said in the capital, Lilongwe.

Growth will be boosted this year by the start of uranium production at Paladin Energy Ltd.’s Kayelekera mine in the north of the country, IMF Malawi Country Manager Maitland MacFarlan told a news conference yesterday.

MacFarlan was speaking at the end of a two-week visit by an IMF delegation, the first review of a US$77.1 million loan accord with Malawi, part of the IMF’s Exogenous Shocks Facility. The delegation also discussed Malawi’s economic prospects and policies for 2009.

“This growth is by all means extraordinary,” said Malawi’s Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe. “Extraordinary because we registered three times more than the continent’s forecast of 3 percent. We expect to do better this year following a bumper tobacco harvest projected at 250 million kilograms (551 million pounds).”

Malawi has recorded average growth of 7 percent over the past three years after moving from a food importer to an exporter.

Statement at the conclusion of an IMF Staff Mission to Malawi