A delegation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is today (july 12) expected to complete assessing the country’s preparedness to host the 41st summit of the bloc, which is scheduled for next month.
Spokesperson for Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms Rejoice Shumba said the technical team, which arrived in the country last week, visited the planned venue for the event – Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe – and some hotels in the city, among other activities.
“I can confirm that we have a SADC technical team which is in the country to engage with a national team in preparations for the summit. They are here to inspect how prepared Malawi is to host the Summit.
“Areas of their focus include on the venue, assessing our hotels and they are with suppliers of interpretation equipment,” said Ms Shumba.
According to Ms Shumba, the Summit shall have a virtual component to enable participation of some delegates from outside Malawi as a measure of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The (SADC) Council approved that the Summit be held in a hybrid format. This is why we have the technical team from SADC because to have such a format there is a need to put in place powerful information and communications technology equipment.”
She said so far, the country’s preparations for the summit are at an advanced level as a national organising committee for the event is coming up with its budget.
“Malawi is indeed prepared and is working towards holding this 41st SADC summit. Government formed various subcommittees to come up with specific budgets. These subcommittees have finalised their budgets for ministerial approval,” she said.
A number of activities in preparation for the summit have been lined up in the country.
They include a media sensitisation campaign to be conducted through the Ministry of Information, a public lecture, and training for reporters as well as media managers on coverage for the Summit.
Said Ms Shumba, “You know that the media plays a big role when it comes to issues of summits and we want to prepare our media so that they should know what is coming up. We want our media to own this summit.”
She said the government would conduct the media training in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat and GIZ.
On the participation of the business community during the Summit, which shall have ministerial conferences as well as a meeting of heads of states, Ms Shumba said SMEs had been engaged.
“When President Lazarus Chakwera was coming from the Extraordinary SADC Summit held in Mozambique, he indicated that it is important that government should engage the Small and Medium Enterprises to showcase their businesses at the summit, we are putting this into action,” said Ms Sumba.At the Summit, President Lazarus Chakwera shall take over the Chairmanship of the regional body. – Zodiak