Malawian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Napoleon Dzombe, has challenged that the country’s economic fortunes can be harnessed if rural communities are developed into centers of production.
Dzombe, the brains behind Rural Development Villages in Malawi, an initiative that is promoting rural livelihoods through economic and social empowerment of communities, says introducing economic concepts that promote production of high value products and value addition in rural areas could transform them into model towns.
“The base of every economy is the production of goods. Therefore, it is important to develop a productive rural base from which the country’s economy can grow,” he says.
The Malawian model of Rural Development Villages has attracted global interest, especially in the United States of America where Dzombe addressed philanthropic partners on his work in Malawi.
Noting that rural areas, home to the majority of Malawi’s population, remain underdeveloped with poor road networks, limited water access, poor housing and lack of electricity, the benevolent entrepreneur says the country must implement developmental concepts that encourage rural productivity than aid flows.
“The economy cannot improve by giving poor people things that may only make them seek for more help,” he told delegates during a lecture delivered in Alabama where he appealed for financial assistance in the construction of dams to mitigate effects of climate change induced droughts in some of the development villages under implementation..
“With dams, people can harvest water for irrigating crops throughout the year and get bumper yields. Through irrigation, our rural farmers can produce crops for the export market,” he says explaining that the country’s economic performance has been very slow because few companies and individuals produce high quality goods for the export market.
Dzombe also suggests that the country should make the tourism sector a priority in order to transform the economy. He further notes that agriculture can be promoted using the One Village One Product (OVOP) model which adds value to farm produce for local, regional and international market consumption.