Vice President Saulos Chilima has urged district and city councils in the Northern Region to maximize opportunities such as natural resources to develop the region into a potential economic and tourism hub.
He made the remarks on Monday after meeting management of councils from Likoma, Karonga, Chitipa and Mzuzu.
During the meetings, Chilima emphasized that the massive opportunities that exist in the hospitality industry, aviation, real estate and the mining sector in the North can only be activated and implemented when the local councils create a conducive environment for growth.
“For example, issues of land and business licensing must be prioritized by all councils if they are to realise the goal of financial sustainability,” he said.
He noted that the councils of Chitipa, Karonga and Likoma as well as Mzuzu presented clear and concise reform areas that with the insight of mindset change would go a long way in transforming the region.
Chitipa District Council presented ambitious plans for a sustainable revenue base which includes constructing a modern bus depot and stadium as well as tapping into potential revenue generation areas such as property rates.
“Just like Likoma District Council, the tourism potential in Chitipa and Karonga are enormous, the kind that would go beyond showcasing the Lake but to market the region as well as boost the production of honey, coffee and rice that is found in the region.
“I was particularly impressed with Chitipa’s idea to market the district with Misuku being one of the spots that could be turned into a serious tourist attraction area,” he said.
Likoma Council on its part mentioned infrastructure development as a catalyst for enhancing tourism and service delivery to the people on the Islands.
Chilima commended the idea to establish Likoma as a top tourist destination through promotional activities that would attract local tourists as well.
He said: “I have since encouraged Likoma to develop a master plan and cost it for submission to the central government and other development partners. And like I said in Blantyre, we will also take Likoma, Neno, Phalombe and Balaka as projects so that we help them to attain the full district level status.”
Mzuzu City Council told the vice president that it is facing a number of problems ranging from a debt of K1.8 billion to loss of public trust.
Chilima, however, noted that the council’s drive towards financial sustainability through estate development and an automated revenue collection system could go a long way in improving its financial standing to start embarking on projects that would satisfy the residents.
“Going forward, the reflection should be what kind of district and city councils do we want in the northern region and then we should all put efforts on achieving that goal with the private sector being part and parcel of such a project. For now, the most important element is that the councils are in a good position to make this happen. They have airports, a trade route and a vast opportunity for tourism growth. All what is required is support,” he said.