Malawi 'looking for new friends' in global south

    From left to right: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma. Newly elected Malawian President Arthur Peter Mutharika looks to BRICS heads of state to help expand the country’s sources of foreign aid. Photo by: BRICS Summit

    Malawi's new president is looking to expand its sources of foreign aid, at a time when western donors are lukewarm in channeling budget support to the government.

    During his inauguration speech on Monday (June 2) in Blantyre, where he vowed to curb corruption, Arthur Peter Mutharika said: "We need development partners from the west and the east equally, north and south alike."

    He expounded on this later on by saying Malawi is "looking for new friends" such as Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China, or what is now popularly known as the BRICS countries.

    Mutharika's statement came as no surprise. Developing countries, whose budgets are still largely dependent on foreign aid, are reaching out to emerging donors, which may be more disposed to hand out assistance without the usual conditions traditional donors often ask from recipients. Some of these emerging donors have already developed some clout in the continent such as China, whose direct investments in Africa are expected to reach $12 billion in the coming years.

    Mutharika's desire — if it comes to pass — would be a win for Malawi, which is still reeling from the effects of the “Cashgate” scandal. Many of the country's donors have suspended aid to the government and won't resume until the case has been resolved and until it has established better financial and management systems.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.