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Central Africa Time Zone UTC+02:00

 Capital City Lilongwe

Currency Malawian Kwacha

National Day  6 July

His Excellency Dr Thomas Bisika
High Commissioner
High Commission for the Republic of Malawi
36 John Street
London WC1N 2AT
T: 020 7421 6010
F: 020 7831 9273
E: malawihighcommission@btconnect.com

Malawi’s High Commissioner Dr Thomas Bisika arrived in London last October with his spouse. Their son had arrived a month prior to begin his studies in Norwich. He and his spouse have been enjoying their time in the capital so far, especially 3 March 2022, a day he will remember for the rest of his life. “I presented my letters of credence to Her Majesty. What was even more special about the occasion was that Her Majesty gave me her full attention and the ensuing conversation was a humbling experience!”

The son of a police officer and housewife, High Commissioner Bisika was one of 12 children: seven boys and five girls. “As the eighth born, I grew up initially with my parents but later stayed with my three brothers who went to Chancellor College, part of University of Malawi, and where I too followed.”

The High Commissioner began his career as an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi in 1993, rising to become a fully-fledged Research Fellow in 1997. “In 2005, I started at the African Union as a Chief of Division for Health, Population and HIV/AIDS. I then went to teach at University of Pretoria School of Health Systems and Public Health before joining the United Nations as a Management Specialist in UNFPA and Health Systems Advisor for World Health Organisation in South Africa and Nigeria respectively.”

In 2010, he returned to Malawi to lead their National AIDS Commission at a time when the Global Fund had just declined Malawi’s application for more resources. “We had to deal with a difficult scenario in which the government had adopted a policy of moving to a new HIV treatment regimen that was three times more expensive, and they had also doubled the number of patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). We immediately reprogrammed and brought in other donors to close the gap. The new programme saw all pregnant and breastfeeding women starting ART irrespective of viral load, and HIV patients started treatment earlier. The results spoke for themselves: deaths declined, the number of new cases decreased, and HIV related hospitalisations were almost eliminated.”

He admits that working with African Union and UN gave him an “opportunity to interact with many officials and diplomats from different countries. At the African Union, I worked with the Permanent Representatives Committee (essentially the grouping of Ambassadors of African Union Member States based in Addis Ababa), preparing for ministerial meetings and heads of state summits.” At the UN, he was part of the team that drafted resolutions to be adopted by ministers, heads of state and government. “Through these various processes I acquired skills that I now bring to my new role here in the UK.”

In 2018, High Commissioner Bisika started working as an advisor on international affairs to His Excellency Dr Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi. “When Dr Chakwera won the Presidential Elections in June 2020, it pleased him to appoint me as Malawi High Commissioner to the UK, and I am very grateful.”

About Brexit, he comments that “the UK and Malawi relationship is not just between two governments. It is a relationship between the people of Malawi and the people of the UK. This relationship remains strong irrespective of what policy each country adopts. We always support each other.”

As High Commissioner in London, his priorities “are in line with Malawi Foreign Policy, Malawi Diaspora Engagement Policy and our development blueprint, Malawi2063.” He plans to “focus on development diplomacy, which is essentially trade facilitation, investment promotion, tourism repositioning, financial and technical assistance. In particular,” he continues, “I will be advocating for the resumption of direct budgetary support as our national budget is donor dependent, and the UK is our major donor.  I will also continue to advocate for resources to rebuild following Cyclone Ana and the Covid-19 related economic meltdown.” He notes, “there is now a need to identify additional funds for Covid-19 recovery. The total cost for implementing the Social Economic Recovery Plan is estimated at MK580billion. For our diaspora, I will focus on foreign direct investment, increasing remittances, philanthropy and brain circulation.”

Looking forward to COP27, High Commissioner Bisika notes that his President “has already made the point that we need to adapt to mitigate the impact of climate change. Malawi needs to reduce its dependence on biomass. We will continue our landscaping restoration efforts and build back better and greener as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to advocate for debt cancellation so that we can have the resources for climate change adaptation and build resilient communities.”

High Commissioner Bisika explains that Malawi has been working on addressing several areas in international relations “with great success. We now have a Foreign Policy and a Diaspora Engagement Policy, and soon will be rolling out dual citizenship. Our only challenge is resources, which has delayed the opening of more foreign missions and even caused the closure of others. But the current administration is trying to close this gap by re-opening missions and setting up new ones.”

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