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About Malawi


The Republic of Malawi formerly known as Nyasaland is a landlocked country located to the south-eastern part of Africa. The country borders Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and northeast, and Mozambique surrounding the east, south and southwest. Malawi spans over 118,484 km2 (45,747 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 18,143,217 (as of July 2018). Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, takes up about a third of Malawi’s area. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi’s largest city.

Malawi is among the world’s least-developed countries, and the economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population that is growing at a rapid rate. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased since 2000. On the other hand, the Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, healthcare, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent amidst widespread unemployment. Since 2005, Malawi has developed several programs that focus on these issues, and the country’s outlook appears to be improving, with a rise in the economy, education and healthcare seen in 2007 and 2008.

Politics of Malawi

Politics inMalawi takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Malawi is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. There is a cabinet of Malawi that is appointed by the President of Malawi. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The government of Malawi has been a multi-party democracy since 1994. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Malawi a “hybrid regime” in 2019.

Development Challenges

Malawi’s development challenges are multi-pronged, including vulnerability to external shocks such as weather and health. Other challenges include rapid population growth and environmental degradation. Energy shortages still stand out, with about 11.4% of the population having access to electricity. Infrastructure development, the manufacturing base, and adoption of new technology are low, and corruption levels remain high with Transparency International ranking Malawi at 122/180 economies in 2018.

Social Context

Malawi has made progress in building its human capital—the knowledge, skills and health that people accumulate over their lives—in recent years. Life expectancy at birth is 63.7 years (2018 Population and Housing Census). The total fertility rate in 2015/16 was 4.4 children per woman down from 6.7 in 1992. Self-reported literacy (reading and writing in any language) is 71.6 for males and 65.9 for females (15+ years of age). However, poverty and inequality remain stubbornly high. The national poverty rate increased slightly from 50.7% in 2010 to 51.5% in 2016, but extreme national poverty decreased from 24.5% in 2010/11 to 20.1 in 2016/17. Poverty is driven by low productivity in the agriculture sector; limited opportunities in non-farm activities; volatile economic growth, rapid population growth, and limited coverage of safety net programs and targeting challenges.

Economic Overview

In 2019, Malawi’s economic growth is projected to reach 4.4%, increasing over the medium term to 5.0 – 5.5%. Growth in 2019 is buoyed by a good harvest overall, despite the impact Cyclone Idai. Solid agricultural growth is likely to support agro-processing and households’ disposable incomes, which should, in turn, drive the service sector. However, the political impasse that has prevailed in the country following the May 2019 elections will weigh on growth.

The FY2018/19 fiscal deficit is expected to stand at 6.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), lower than the previous year (7.8% of GDP) but higher than budgeted (3.8% of GDP). Despite missing its target, the expected deficit demonstrates progress over FY2017/18, particularly for an election year. The higher than anticipated deficit is due to lower revenues and grants and higher recurrent expenditure, the latter due to higher than budgeted interest payments, election-related spending, and Cyclone Idai disaster relief.

Headline inflation has continued in single digit standing at 9.3% in July 2019 compared to 9.0% in July 2018. The decline of inflation in general has been largely aided by a steady deceleration in non-food inflation which reached 5.5% supported by a relatively tight monetary policy. Food inflation, however, remains elevated at 14.2% with continued pressure from maize prices which by the end of July were 75% higher than July 2018 and 66% higher than the five-year average

Malawi’s Unemployment Rate increased to 6.60 % in Dec 2013, from the previously reported number of 1.00 % in Dec 2011. Malawi’s Unemployment Rate is updated yearly, available from Dec 2005 to Dec 2013, with an average rate of 2.05 %. The data reached an all-time high of 6.60 % in Dec 2013 and a record low of 1.00 % in Dec 2011. The data is reported by reported by National Statistics Office of Malawi.

In the latest reports, Malawi’s Population reached 19.13 million people in Dec 2020. The country’s Labour Force Participation Rate increased to 76.72 % in Dec 2019.


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