Though Malawi is landlocked, her lake serves as an advantage where Maritime trade is concerned. Even though the ‘Maritime’ definition favors seas, it is applicable for countries that trade on vast lakes/rivers. Having both, it is expected of Malawi to provide quality port infrastructure, but she has not delivered, according to World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey.
Port infrastructure is all the necessary machinery built to support Ships, Cargo loading and unloading, storage and more. Just as an airport must have its necessary infrastructure; so is the same with ports. According to accreditation of the World Economic Forum survey, port infrastructure scores range from 1 (port infrastructure considered extremely underdeveloped) to 7 (port infrastructure considered efficient by international standards). Respondents in landlocked countries were asked how accessible are port facilities (1 = extremely inaccessible; 7 = extremely accessible).
Malawi scored a 2.1 on both counts, which was no suprise to lake shore business owners. Abdul Mambo, a former large scale fisherman based in Mangochi, pointed out that the problem was that though Malawi attempted to build the necessary infrastructure, the goal was not for local trade.
“The attempted Nsanje port aimed at shipping cargo directly from the indian ocean” he said, “that was an extraordinary vision, but that can’t be the port’s only use. We should have had such ports for various lake shore traders in Malawi”. Mambo’s overall opinion was that outside the Nsanje Port project, it seemed Malawi saw no use for port infrastructure.
The chart shows a moderate score of 3 from 2008, when foundations of the project had been laid, registering an improvement of 3.5 between 2012 to 2013, before dropping rapidly in 2014 to a minimum of 2.1 in 2017.
The port remains in a standstill as it perseveres skepticism, vandalism and geopolitics. Regardless, port infrastructure is held by the World Bank as a development indicator.