The government is yet to finalise the process of identifying an operator to manage the Bingu International Conference Centre (ICC), a development that has delayed the commercialisation of Presidential Villas at the facility, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture has said.

The Lilongwe-based ICC has 14 presidential villas which are used for hosting foreign heads of state and government on their tour of duty in the country.

The development means the commercialisation drive has missed the target by, at least, one month after Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Minister Rachael Zulu said on January 30 that the process would be through by March.

Speaking in an interview Thursday, Zulu, whose ministry regards the Presidential Villas as a tourism destination place, said the commercialisation drive would depend on the outcome of the procurement process.

“We are yet to identify the operator because the procurement process is under way. We will complete the process in May,” Zulu said.

Zulu said the preferred operator would also be expected to manage the Bingu International Conference Centre, and President Hotel.

She said the government would still go ahead with the commercialisation drive as the move would benefit the country in a number of ways, including propping up its revenue generation means.

Zulu was quoted in January as saying “the 14 houses (villas) cannot just be staying idle waiting for presidents to come to Malawi. We are going to make sure that we generate some funds from them by making them open to all people who would meet the standards of the place”.

The minister also indicated that five international companies had already submitting their bids.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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