Scottish minister to make landmark visit to Malawi and Zambia

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Scotland and Malawi continue to have a close relationship 154 years after the Scottish missionary David Livingstone first arrived in the country

Scottish Minister Humza Yousaf will visit Malawi and Zambia this week in a landmark visit to strengthen links between Scotland and the two African nations.

Mr Yousaf, External Affairs and International Development Minister, is to meet with business leaders and ministers while also visiting projects funded by the Scottish Government through the International Development and Climate Justice funds.

This will include the Kulima programme run by Catholic development agency SCIAF in Lusake, Zambia, which works with rural farming communities.

Discussions with officials will look at issues such as the establishment of a civic society, education, renewable energy and climate change in an effort to reinforce ties between Scotland and other Commonwealth nations and develop working relationships.

"Looking forward to Malawi and Zambia visit. Focus on developing relationship beyond traditional 'donor' 'recipient' and growing local wealth/jobs," Mr Yousaf tweeted yesterday.

David Hope-Jones, Principal Officer of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership, was excited about the relationship between the two countries.

"At its heart, this is a community to community, family to family and people to people relationship, defined and underpinned by genuine, dignified partnership. It is a relationship built on friendship, understanding and mutual respect: a unique national effort.

"We feel it is essential that all involved in this relationship have the opportunity to visit both sides, and meet the real people behind each of the thousands of links which unite our two nations.

"In the 154 years since Dr Livingstone first arrived in what became Malawi, few visiting Scots have failed to fall in love with, and be inspired by, the country.

"We are greatly excited about the Minister's forthcoming visit to Malawi, where he will be able to see first-hand the warmth and enthusiasm that exists across Malawi for the historic links with Scotland."

Mr Yousaf is the first Scottish Government Minister to visit Zambia, and the trip coincides with the journey of the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton, which will also arrive this week in both Malawi and Zambia as part of its 288-circuit of member nations and territories.

Ahead of his trip, Mr Yousaf noted the "unrivalled" opportunity the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is offering "to make new connections and deepen existing relationships" with other countries.

"Scotland and Malawi already have a long history of collaboration, particularly in health and education, and more recently in the field of renewable energy and climate change, and we are determined to build on this and move the relationship to the next level," he said.

"There are now opportunities for an exchange of skills, investment and trade between Scotland and Malawi."

He also noted his desire to build on "our growing relationship" with Zambia, and praised Scotland's global reputation for fighting poverty: "I am looking forward to seeing how our work is making an impact and helping some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world."

Head of International Programmes at SCIAF Lorrain Currie has thanked the Scottish government as well as the people of Scotland for their generosity in helping to fund the charity's life-changing work. "SCIAF is providing practical support to poor farming communities including livestock, seeds and training, so that they can grow more food and work their way out of poverty," she says.

"However, extreme poverty remains a huge and life-threatening problem for millions of people in Malawi and Zambia. Many families go hungry and are surviving on the equivalent of just £1 a day.

"The visit of Humza Yousaf is a great opportunity for him to see the real difference Scottish Government money is making to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet."

Mr Yousaf is expected to arrive in Malawi on 21 January and will travel to Zambia on 26 January.

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