Transport Infrastructure Development and Energy Generation and Supply are two of the six key priority areas that the Government of Malawi, (GoM) through its medium-term development strategy, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), singles out as necessary in order to achieve sustainable social and economic development. Learning from own development experience, both at home and elsewhere, the Government of Japan, through JICA, also recognizes the importance of these two sectors and has aligned its assistance programs in economic development to the sectors.
Japan believes that for sustainable economic and social development to take place a good and efficient transport network is very important. Malawi, just like many other developing countries, faces a lot of challenges in providing this kind of transport network. On the one hand, while a lot is being done by the GoM to increase the length of paved roads network in the country, there are a lot bridges that need replacement either because they were constructed as single lane traffic bridges or were constructed with timber due to limited resources at the time of construction, or due to frequent wash away during rainy seasons. On the other hand, due to increasing motor vehicle population in urban areas, most roads are not able to cope with traffic volumes and this result in painfully slow movement of vehicles causing a lot of inconveniences. There is, therefore, an ever increasing need to improve the traffic volume capacity for urban roads. Noting that road is the most frequently used mode of transport in Malawi, JICA has over the years assisted the GoM in its efforts to improve its infrastructure in the areas of road reconstruction and bridge replacement. This approach is likely to continue for the foreseeable future with a possibility of extending further assistance to other modes of transport like air.
In a country like Malawi where more than 80% of the population lives in rural areas, access to electricity is a big problem. In Malawi, for example, just about 8% of all the households have access to electricity, leaving the rest of the population to rely on traditional ways of providing energy and lighting. This situation impacts negatively on the environment through deforestation while at the same time slows down social and economic development.
The GoM, through the rural electrification program, intends to increase access to electricity in rural areas. JICA has, for close to a decade, been a close partner of the GoM in its efforts to realize its dreams of increasing the number of households with access to electricity to 10% by 2010. The assistance has been both financially and technically.