Likoma island is the largest island on Lake Malawi with an estimated population of 10 000 inhabitants. Its been deserted since independence no large infrastructural development has taken place after the airport and Anglican church. In short no government has taken the potential of Likoma seriously. The livelihood of most people is agriculture just like the whole of Malawi and fishing.
Likoma district can be declared a special economic zone for tourism and leisure. Currently Likoma airport is the 3rd busiest in Malawi after Chileka airport in Blantyre and Kamuzu airport in Lilongwe. Its a clear sign should they be an increase in economic activities the airport can witness an increase in air traffic
Malawi government needs to establish a special economic zone authority for Likoma to come up with a proper urban planning structure for Likoma and raise funds for the construction of the basic infrastructure needed i.e civic centre. Tarmac, power lines, water pipes, sewer system, communication, health centres, shipping dock, land surveying and other public aminties.
Likoma district council needs to provide construction and development permits with ease to fast track the realization of the benefits of being a special economic zone. It needs to construct itself a new civic centre, fully equipped fire department, council health facility, municipal police service, refuse collection facilities and also a water treatment plant. A new and modern council offices with good meeting facilities will be good for hosting meetings and conferences with potential investors.
The national government needs to offer investors tax reliefs, exemptions of customs taxes on materials to be used, offer incentives for existing service such as airlines to attract more players, discount land rates, deregulate the marine sector for more players such at ship services for both cargo and passengers, shipping cusines, etc
Property development there is need to construct Likoma island hotel, cultural and entertainment centre, villas, resorts, motels, casinos, sports club, local cusines restaurants, development for residents, office and shopping complex. Such facilities will provide jobs and improve livelihoods of of the Likoma people and also improved living standards for the island.
Sports facilities like beach football, beach volleyball, basketball pitch, tennis court and a mini football stadium to target tournaments like the coca cola school soccer, Airtel raising stars. The sporting facilities will improve social activities of the youth to absent from anti-social behaviour.
Educational facilities to reduce the islands from reliance of having to access skilled labour from mainland Malawi. They is need to rehabilitate the existing primary and secondary schools and construct new ones ensure every pupil has adequate chair, desk, stationary, and teaching staff. Malawi government through the Malawi institute of tourism should encourage development and training in tourism and other skills required. Constructing a tertiary education campus and a community college. Student’s attending education are important in sustaining the accommodation sector for those not staying on campus.
Financial services they is need for banks to establish agency’s or stand alone branches in Likoma. Banks are important for easy, safe and affordable access to funds and also reaching out to the unbanked population’s. In a tourism environment they is need for point of sale devices that accepts visa cards, mastercards and other financial services like Rtgs, salary processing, loans, forex exchange, etc. Expansion of other services like mobile money, insurance agencies,etc
Port facilities they is need to engage the Malawi lake services to ensure they is a reliable ship service for passengers and cargo and also upgrade the existing port with basic necessities of a marine port. The airport development limited needs to upgrade the existing airport i.e construct a new terminal building, expand the current taxi way to accommodate bigger aircraft, lighting for night flights, fire department to compile with Iata standards.
Energy generation the current desiel plant is too costly to run and also not available 24 hours. Malawi government needs to allow independent power producers to generate power using wind and solar energy supply to support a 24 hour economy. Escom needs to be engaged to run new power lines and installation of power meters.
Agricultural and food security with reliable power supply should encourage the national government to expand the greenbelt programme to Likoma. This will ensure crop production all year round and reduce dependency on importing of vegetables and legumes from mainland Malawi.
Such development to happen in Malawi remains a challenge and just a dream. Government lacks the political will and urgencies to improve the welfare of its own citizens. Institutions like parliament take long deliberating bills and some even take years to see the light of the day. Its important for the chiefs and leaders of Likoma district to create a committee that stands up and represents they interests for a better Likoma district which also includes chizumulu island with an estimated population of 4000 inhabitants.