A team of twenty-five Malawians from various walks of life in May 2017 underwent a three-week training in youth employment and development in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province in the People’s Republic of China.

The training is part of China’s growing influence on the global scene with its positive contribution being felt in almost every part of the developing world. It was the umpteenth cohort of Malawians to be trained by China, which has committed to developing the human resource capacities of developing countries, including Malawi. The recent training, for example, was sandwiched between trainings to which the Chinese government also invited a number of Malawians.

The May training was meant to equip the participants with skills in the areas of entrepreneurship and job creation and is locally tied to the Jobs for Youth Project of the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development (MLYSMPD) and the African Union’s 100 Youth in Business initiative.

The participants were selected by the two institutions and they comprised Ministry of Youth officials, young entrepreneurs, university students, leaders of youth organizations, officials from key statutory corporations and teaching staff from the technical colleges.

One of the participants to the training said the training was an eye opener for the youth in Malawi, adding that Malawian youths needed to emulate the hard working spirit that the Chinese have. He also said government needed to create a conducive environment through the creation of youth-friendly policies and investments. China, for example, spurred the growth of small scale businesses through provision of interest-free or low-interest loans to young entrepreneurs.

Speaking at a welcoming banquet when the participants jetted into the country on May 30, 2017 upon the completion of their training, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Honourable Henry Mussa, MP, thanked the Chinese government for its continued support to Malawi and supporting the training of the 25 participants in particular.

Mussa also stressed the need for the youth, including those that underwent this training, to utilise the acquired skills to develop themselves saying government can only do so much and the youth should do their part.

He also emphasized the importance of mentorship in business, urging young entrepreneurs to seek support from those that are already established, bearing in mind the tenets of integrity, patriotism and hard work.

Speaking at the same function, Chinese Ambassador Shi Tin Wang said that China had grown from being as poor as Malawi is because it prioritised youth development, adding that Malawi could consider doing the same.

Stating that China’s support to developing countries is not just about infrastructure development but also human resource development, Ambassador Shi also revealed that his country had become the biggest provider of scholarships to Malawi despite itself being a 'developing country'. He added that concerted efforts between Malawi and China are important for Malawi’s development.

The African Union Regional Delegate to Southern Africa Dr. Auguste Ngomo, speaking at the banquet, commended Malawi for proposing a youth-focused annual theme for Africa for the year 2017. Malawi proposed ‘Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth’ as the theme for this year.

Ngomo went further to challenge Malawi government to follow up its proposal with action in creating businesses in line with the continental goals of 100 youths in business, suggesting that protectionist approaches might be required to enhance growth in youth entrepreneurship.

The 2017 Seminar on Youth Employment and Development for Malawi was organized by the Fujian Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Officials’ Training Centre with support from the Ministry of Commerce of China. It was mainly hosted in Fuzhou City but included learning visits to other cities such as Chengdu, the island city of Xiamen and Quangzhou.

The training was a tripartite effort by the Chinese Embassy, the AU Regional Office and the Ministry of Labour, Youth Sports and Manpower Development. It is expected that the team that underwent the training will be going flat out to put their acquired skills into use in local contexts.