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 Name: Repubblic of Malawi

Independence: 1964 – United Kingdom (Protectorate of Nyasaland)
Form of government: Presidential Republic
Capital: Lilongwe
Area: 118,484 kmq
Population: 19,130,000 (2020)
Life expectancy at birth: Male 60.29, Female 66.57 (2020)
Fertility rate: 4.25 children per woman (2020)
Infant mortality rate: 41 out of 1000 babies born (2020)
Dependency rate: 83.9 (2020)
Median age: 18.1 (2020)
Ethnic groups: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asiatici, Europei
Religions: Christians 62%, Muslims 12%, Others 25%, Without religion 1% (2018 census)
Languages: Chichewa 57,2% (ufficiale), Chinyanja 12,8%, Chiyao 10,1%, Chitumbuka 9,.5%, Chisena 2,7%, Chilomwe 2,4%, Chitonga 1,7%, altri 3,6% (censimento 1998);
Literacy rate: Male 83%, Female 72%

Political-institutional data

Administrative division: 27 districts: Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Likoma, Lilongwe, Machinga (Kasupe), Mangochi, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Ntcheu, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba;
National Day: Independence Day, July 6th (1964);
Constitution: May 1994
Legislative Organ: Bicameral Parliament (National Assembly) with 193 seats. Members are elected through universal suffrage for a 5-years term.
Last election results: Chakwera 58,57% (2.604.043 votes – threshold of 50%+1), Mutharika 38% (1.751.877 votes), Kuwani 2%. Total voters 4.445.699 out of 6.859.570 eligible voters.
Principal Political Parties: United Democratic Front (UDF) [Bakili MULUZI]; Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) [Bingu wa MUTHARIKA]; Malawi Congress Party (MCP) [John TEMBO]; Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) [Kampelo KALUA]; Mgwirizano Coalition (MC: coalition formed by MAFUNDE, MDP, MGODE, NUP, PETRA, PPM, RP) [Gwandaguluwe CHAKUAMBA];
Executive Organ: The Government is appointed by the President, who is elected every 5 years.
Head of State and Head of the Government: Dr. Lazarus M. Chakwera (28/06/2020; MCP-Malawi Congress Party) e Vice President Mr. Saulos Chilima.


The multi-party system has historically worked well in Malawi. The 1995 Constitution provides, for the executive, a President, head of state and government, elected by the people; two vice-presidents (one of which belongs to a different party) appointed by the president. The National Assembly has 193 seats, all directly elected with five-year office. The Constitution also provides for another branch, the Senate, made up of 81 representative members of the different territorial areas and different social groups, but at the moment this institution has not yet been created. The outcome of the polls is often uncertain and the establishment of governments of national unity or of more or less large coalitions is a common practice. The political arena is peaceful. The only case of popular uprising, quelled by the use of force by the army, occurred in July 2011, when international donors suspended aid to the country due to the restriction of political and civil freedoms operated by President Bingu. wa Mutharika.
The elections took place without major disputes, except in 2019 when outgoing president Peter Mutharika (DPP), brother of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, won over the opponent Chakwera (MCP) by a few thousand votes. The 2019 election date was already under observation by international observers for several reasons. First, the corruption scandals during Mutharika's government raised doubts about the president's real willingness to fight bad governance in the country. Secondly, in 2016 the land tenure reform was approved; a reform that has been under discussion for over twenty years.
In February 2020, the Constitutional Court ascertained the existence of manipulated ballots and fraud in favour of the outgoing president Mutharika, ordering new elections. This decision is surprising in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa and reveals how the attention to human rights is high in Malawi (the Country was voted as "Country of the Year" by the Economist and to the Malawian Constitutional Court was awarded the "Chatman House prize "). In these elections, through a new double round system, Chakwera (MCP) was elected with 60% of the votes. Chakwera, leading a coalition made up of nine parties, has already embarked on a process of reform aimed at diminishing the powers of the presidency, allowing the institutions to operate independently. Among the main themes of his government are the increase of the national minimum wage, the creation of jobs, the subsidy for universal fertilizers, the liberation of the country from tribalism.


With a per capita income of around USD 410 per year and a population of over 19 million people, Malawi ranks at the bottom of the Human Development Index (174th out of 189 countries - 2019). Unlike its neighbouring countries, Malawi has a subsoil that is poor in minerals.
The growth rates of the 2000s have radically reduced, reaching an average of 4% per year in recent years. Exports have increased in recent years (+ 3%) reaching 753 million euros in 2019. Leading exports are tobacco (45%), sugar (9%), coffee and tea (9%). Imports experienced a more significant increase (+ 15%), weighing on the trade balance for 2425 million euros. The main trading partners are China, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and India. The country mainly enters, according to the UnComTrade classification, are nuclear reactors and boilers (10%), printing products (10%), machinery and electrical appliances (8%). Due to the pandemic, it is reasonable to expect larger imbalances in the country's trade balance.
Malawi has undertaken several national development plans since 2002, all based on the principles established in the "Vision 2020" policy document aimed at providing a policy framework to ensure sustainable and lasting development in a democratically stable and resilient environment. The "Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper" (PRSP) was launched in 2002 with the ambition of involving the poorest classes in participating in the country's economic development. It is based on four "cornerstones" that summarize the various activities in a coherent framework aimed at achieving poverty reduction, which can be summarized as: strategies for (1) a rapid and lasting economic growth and for a structural transformation for the benefit of the poorest classes, (2) a development (enhancement) of human capital, (3) an improvement in the quality of life for the most vulnerable and (4) the achievement of “good governance”.
The first Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS1) for the period 2006-2011 focused efforts on six priority areas: agriculture and food security; irrigation and water system development; transports; electrical production; integrated rural development; management of eating disorders and HIV/AIDS. It is during the implementation of MGDS1 that the country experienced significant growth rates.
For the period 2011-2017, MGSD2 has shifted its focus on sustainable economic growth, social development, risk management and social support; infrastructural development; governance. The areas of intervention were more articulated: agriculture and food security; transport infrastructure; industrial development; mining and tourism sectors; instruction; public health; integrated rural development; irrigation and water system development; empowerment of young people; climate change and environmental management. The implementation of MGSD2 has encountered countless difficulties due to the economic slowdown. It was necessary to resort to a Recovery Plan to compensate for the shortage of fuels and foreign currency through monetary reforms. Although the Recovery Plan responded positively to the economic challenges of those years, the objectives set in MGSD2 were not achieved.
MGSD3 is currently underway, it began in 2017 and will end in 2022. The objective of the plan has not changed. In fact, the aim is to build a productive, competitive, and resilient country relying on sustainable agriculture, economic growth, energy, infrastructural and industrial development, while looking at the environmental and demographic challenges at the same time. The strategy is ambitious and aims to intervene on agriculture; education and skills development; energy, industry and tourism; transport and technological infrastructure; health and population.
The MGDS3 has a clear and ambitious strategy. Concerns remain about the achievement of the objectives, especially in consideration of previous experiences. National development plans have never met their growth targets, and for the first three years of MGDS3 the increase in GDP was lower than expected. Considering the impact of the pandemic on international markets, it is likely to imagine that even for the next few years it will not be possible to reach the target of + 7% of GDP growth. This framework, combined with the failure in containing inflation, raises serious questions about the economic feasibility of MGDS3 and exposes the risk of greater dependence on international aid.

Development cooperation

Italy's commitment to support Malawi is mainly within the framework of the European Union's cooperation policies. The financial allocations to the EDF FOR 2014-2020 for Malawi amount to around EUR 560 million. The Italian contribution key is 12.53% and, as a result, the Italian financial commitment is very substantial, amounting to 70.168 million euros in the reporting period.
The Community of Sant'Egidio is at the forefront in the fight against AIDS in the country through the Drug Resource Enhancement against Aids and Malnutrition programme, which is based on a preventive and curative strategy through the use of antiretroviral medicines in addition to home based care of AIDS patients. Since 2005, DREAM has been divided into:
- programmes for the prevention of maternal infant transmission;
- distribution of food supports for the vulnerable in the population;
- organization of vocational training courses and health information;
- management of laboratories for advanced diagnostics and scientific research on the characteristics of AIDS in Africa.
The second phase of the programme, called 'DREAM 2.0', specifically targets diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, and diabetes whose spread is facilitated by the collapse of immune defence.
In 2017 the Bid Resilience/LRRD was launched for CSO, allowing the funding of two projects proposed by as the same eligible CSO (Save the Children and COOPI). The projects are followed and monitored by this AICS offices. Malawi is also one of the target countries of regional initiative launched in 2018 and aimed at limiting the effects of climate change for vulnerable communities.
The initiative, in the country, is implemented by SCO Save the Children, CISP and Sant' Egidio. In addition, an initiative funded by AICS and carried out by OSC ACAP- Sant'Egidio is being implemented to enhance the HIV care of some health facilities, which also includes integration of services for cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cervical cancer care.
After the passage of Cyclone IDAI, Italian cooperation has prepared an emergency contribution to WFP worth EUR 250,000 to support the families most affected by the floods in Malawi.
In the past, the EEA has funded the following cooperation projects in Malawi:
- 'Integrated Maternity and Reproductive Health Promotion Programme to strengthen the health network to protect maternal/child and reproductive health in the Central Malawi Region (concluded in 2011).
- "During 2010, CESTAS prepared a series of new training courses to be included in the Nursing-obstetric-medical Curriculum to meet the needs of the new maternal-child ward opened at Bwaila in October 2009.
- 'Development of entrepreneurship and educational and information opportunities’ for the marginal population, with a particular focus on women, to reduce poverty and improve the status of women in Lilongwe, developing entrepreneurship, through training and information activities aimed at the marginal population and in particular women (concluded in 2011).
- "Chipalamba Toto!" Coalition of NGOs against desertification in the southern region of Malawi, which aims to combat the phenomenon of desertification in that region, in five areas of Blantyre district. In many areas of the country, the Ministry of Agriculture has estimated a loss of soil between 50 and 100 tonnes per hectare per year.
- 'Chifundo- Prevention of HIV transmission and home care of AIDS patients in Balaka, Machinga and Mangochi districts, carried out in cooperation with the Diocese of Mangochi and the Ministry of Health of Malawi, aims to raise awareness among the population of 32 rural communities about the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS.
- "Prevention and treatment in maternal infant transmission of HIV in Southern Africa (Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania). The expansion of activity in the health centers, which is part of the DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement Against AIDS and Malnutrition) programme, has lasted for three years since 2007.
Italy also launched in Malawi in 2011 the vaccination campaign against pneumococcal as part of the AMC (Advance Market Committment) initiative, to which our country has contributed 635 million dollars on a global basis.
The Italian Cooperation has granted two emergency contributions worth a total of 500,000 euros - divided equally between Malawi and Zimbabwe - in response to the WFP (World Food Programme), in response to the humanitarian emergency caused by the devastation of Cyclone Idai, disbursed through the Italian Bilateral Emergency Fund (FBE) at the Organization.

Economic Cooperation

About 35% of Malawi's budget depends on international donors.
The growth rates of the 2000s have radically reduced, reaching an average of 4% per year in recent years. Exports have increased in recent years (+ 3%) reaching 753 million euros in 2019. Imports experienced a more significant increase (+ 15%), weighing on the trade balance for 2425 million euros.
The European Union is a trading partner of Malawi, however the country's weight in EU trade is still just 0.01% of the total. The exchange model with the Union is in line with the usual one between the EU and ACP countries. The largest importers from Malawi are Belgium (17% of the total of Malawi’s), the Netherlands (4%) and Germany (3%). The largest exporters are Norway (3%), the Netherlands (1%) and Germany (1%).
The main products of Italian exports to the country are represented by the paper industry, vehicles, nuclear reactors and boilers, including spare parts.
A positive signal is represented by the ratification (February 2012) by Malawi of the bilateral Convention for the Protection and Promotion of Investments. The bilateral agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments, signed in August 2003 and awaiting ratification, represents a useful instrument to create a favourable climate for a growth of the Italian companies in the Country. The tourism sector has a large margin for growth. The Italian tourism presence in Malawi can find its incentives not only in the natural beauty of the several parks but also in the elements that differentiate Malawi from the neighbouring countries, ie: the greater historical and cultural wealth.
The agricultural sector could also benefit by the presence of the Italian manufacturers of irrigation plants, considering the need of the Country to diversify its crops and to overcome their seasonal character. Of interest appears to be investment opportunities by firms which can operate in the field of agricultural product’s transformation, especially of tobacco.
The industry is beginning to see signs of development, although it continues to be linked to the transformation of agricultural products (e.g., sugar factories, oil mills, tobacco factories). There are also cement factories, sawmills, and small companies for the production of clothing items for the domestic market. The development of a sustainable industrial sector is limited by shortcomings in the transport network. The road network is scarcely widespread in rural areas, while rail transport suffers from the inadequacy and obsolescence of the infrastructure. The country suffers from a strong imbalance in the trade balance due to the absence of the transformative sector and shortages in secondary production. Malawi exports raw materials and imports processed products. The economic policy strategy implemented by the government aims at the creation and consolidation of the manufacturing and transformative industry, consequently reducing the contribution of trade to the domestic product. Machineries for agricultural and industrial processing are a necessity for the country, as it is the import of skills and knowledge on their use.