Malawi experienced transition without transformation – study 

London-based policy think tank – Legatum Institute – has observed that despite Malawi experiencing political transition since 1994 when the country reverted to multiparty democracy, citizens have not experienced economic transformation.

The institute’s Director of Policy, Dr. Stephen Brien, made the sentiments in Lilongwe on Tuesday at the launch of the research report on Malawi titled ‘Pathways to Prosperity Case Study’.

The Legatum Institute is a London-based think-tank with a bold vision to build a global movement of people committed to creating the pathways from poverty to prosperity and the transformation of society.

Dr. Brien making his presentation at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Tuesday–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

In his presentation, Brien stated that “Malawi has experienced a transition without transformation”, with low agricultural productivity, low diversification and irrigation mostly rain-fed and lack of rural development and sharp urban-rural disparities featuring as underlying challenges that led to stagnation.

He also cited lack of fiscal, administrative and political capacity within local administrations, and economy captured by competitive clientelism as contributing factors to sluggish pace to economic independence

“Malawi today also has some very pressing challenges such as forex shortage, low fiscal headroom and mounting debt,” said Brien.

He emphasized that for Malawi to recover from this trap, the government must promote and encourage greater participation of smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs and Malawians in economic transformation.

He further recommended that rural population must be empowered through infrastructure and market access, local mini-grid and off-grid systems to increase remote energy generation, investments to enhance rural access to energy, communications, and water, road development funding to enhance rural access to local markets and deregulation of logistics market to encourage competition and investments.

National Planning Commission director general Thomas Munthali

In his keynote speech, the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr.  Thomas Chataghalala Munthali, said through the Malawi 2063, Malawians have resolved to have an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant industrialiased upper middle income nation by the year 2063.

Munthali said this is why after launching the MW2063, the developed First 10-year Implementation Plan (MIP-1), which has flagship projects and catalytic interventions meant to operationalize the vision.

“The MIP-1 has two key milestones to be achieved by 2030: Graduating Malawi into a low middle-income nation; and also meeting most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this being the last Decade of Action. So, what are the pathways to our vision of wealth creation and prosperity for all, as defined in the Malawi 2063?

“We have agreed as a nation that to achieve our vision aspirations, we will need to focus on three inter-linked pillars.

“First is Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization that will feed into the value-addition that will support our industrialization agenda knowing that the majority of our people are in this space and so this is a natural springboard to prosperity.

“Mega farms and maximizing productivity on small pieces of land are some of the game changers. We will hence need to have our irrigable land increase to 60 percent from current 29 percent while the share of agriculture exports other than tobacco move from below 40 percent to 60 percent, and land under commercial agriculture move from 16 percent to 40 percent by 2030,” he said.

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