Today marks the end of an exciting and inspiring journey, as we witness the final round of the 2019 EU-ECAMA Student Debates competition, and I am honoured to be here with you all today.
The EU embarked on this journey because we believe in the youth. We believe in youth empowerment. And we believe that the Malawi youth should and can be given an opportunity to contribute to your country's development.
You, the youth represent:
As such, your views and opinions matter. But you have limited space to make yourselves heard. That is why we started these series of debates as one way of providing you with that much needed platform.
We started this student debates initiative in 2018, with a once off debate that took place between Chancellor College and the Catholic University of Malawi. Earlier this year, we launched the debates for accounting students where we collaborated with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (ICAM). These debates focussed on transparency and accountability topics.
This time around, we have partnered with the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) to hold this series of debates focussing on economic growth and development inclined debating topics. The ultimate objective of all these debates is to create a long-lasting debating society in Malawi's colleges and universities, and present students with a platform to continually interact and share knowledge on how they can contribute to the development of the country.
Moving on to the topic of today, we started this debate competition with 8 Universities some 3 months ago, covering the Northern Region, Central Region, Southern Region, and the Eastern Region of Malawi. These are, the Blantyre International University, Catholic University of Malawi, Chancellor College, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi Assemblies of God University, Malawi Polytechnic, Mzuzu University, and University of Livingstonia.
These 8 Universities battled it out at the regional stage, out of which 4 qualified for the semi-finals. And just last week, we held our semi-finals round of debate, out of which 2 made it to this championship debate stage. Through all this, you students have debated on hot topics such as FISP, the fiscal policy, the monetary framework, energy, private sector development, and even whether us development partners effectively support Malawi's economic growth.
And today, we are all eager to find out which team will carry the championship, as the Malawi Polytechnic face-off with the Catholic University of Malawi, as they debate on the topic, "DOES AGRICULTURE OFFER THE LARGEST POTENTIAL FOR MALAWI'S ECONOMIC GROWTH?"
As we all know, Agriculture is the backbone of the Malawi economy. The very high significance of this sector in the Malawi economy makes the topic of today's debate very critical for policy makers and all of us here present, as it will give us a second look at what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong with regards to achieving economic growth where the agriculture sector is concerned. Believe me, we are having the same discussions in our offices and with our cooperating partners.
But before we get to the business of the day, ….
The winner of this competition will ultimately be the Malawi nation, and the policy makers particularly those working in the agriculture sector and agriculture related activities who are here today, and who will benefit from your innovative and thought provoking lines of thought.
I wish you all a fruitful debate and I look forward to seeing all of you again in our next series of debating competitions, the 2020 EU-ECAMA Student Debates as well as the 2020 EU-ICAM Student Debates.
May the best team win.