Malawi govt presses on archival registration of publications

Most of the publications in Malawi are not registered with the National Archives of Malawi (NAM), forcing the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture to issue a stern warning, saying it is an offence to fail to comply with the Printed Publications Act (Cap. 19:01), sub-section 5(1) of the Laws of Malawi.

Government has also called on the publishers to deposit copies with it, and also introduced a bar-coding system for books with ISBNs.

In a statement, the ministry says every publisher in Malawi is obliged to register their newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc. before commencing with publishing. It does not talk about online media.

Malawi papers

Deposit of publications

Signed by the Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Fletcher Zenengeya, government says: “…has noted with concern that a number of publishers, i.e. companies, individuals, and non-governmental organizations in the country are publishing and circulating… without registering them (publications) with the National Archives of Malawi.”

The ministry also calls for the publishers who have not yet been depositing their publications to start doing so with immediate effect.

“The ministry would therefore like to remind all publishers in Malawi whether government, corporate, commercial, or private that it is a legal requirement under the same Act, sub-section 4 of the Laws of Malawi: “…that all p[publishers in Malawi should deposit copies of their publications with the National Archives of Malawi within two months from the date of publication for official custody and failure to comply is punishable by law.”

On the other hand, adds the statement, it is not only important for publishers to comply with the legal requirements to deposit their publications.

“…but also good for the nation because in doing so publishers will be contributing to the richness of Malawi’s documentary heritage which is preserved for reference, research and posterity,” says the ministry.


Books and related publications with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) in Malawi now qualify for bar-coding through the newly introduced bar-coding system which can be obtained from the National Archives of Malawi’s ISBN Agency in Zomba.

“Among other advantages, the bar-coding system for books with an ISBN is endowed with a unique international identification number which offers world-class competitive advantages for publishers, booksellers, authors, distributors, and buyers,” says the statement.

The other advantage of affixing an ISBN with a bar-code to a book is that the bar-code is machine-readable and is required for running electronic point-of-sale systems in bookshops.

“Libraries with electronic charging systems use bar-codes to issue books to their customers.”

A bar-code also provides an efficient, error free, and fast electronic processing of book sales, orders, distribution, and stock control.

The ministry has extended an invitation to all authors and publishers in the country to register for the use of ISBNs with bar-codes on their books in order to promote the publications even internationally.

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