Malawi Economy

Is Malawi a rich country?

Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, poor infrastructure, rampant corruption, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 80% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports, although Malawi is looking to diversify away from tobacco to other cash crops.





The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. Donors halted direct budget support from 2013 to 2016 because of concerns about corruption and fiscal carelessness, but the World Bank resumed budget support in May 2017. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program but recent increases in domestic borrowing mean that debt servicing in 2016 exceeded the levels prior to HIPC debt relief.





Heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, with corn being the staple crop, Malawi’s economy was hit hard by the El Nino-driven drought in 2015 and 2016, and now faces threat from the fall armyworm. The drought also slowed economic activity, led to two consecutive years of declining economic growth, and contributed to high inflation rates. Depressed food prices over 2017 led to a significant drop in inflation (from an average of 21.7% in 2016 to 12.3% in 2017), with a similar drop in interest rates.

Malawi Economy Data

What is the GDP of Malawi?

GDP - Gross Domestic Product (PPP) $19,580,000,000 (USD)
GDP - official exchange rate $6,388,000,000 (USD)
GDP - real growth rate 4%
GDP Per Capita $1,200.00 (USD)
GDP by Sector- agriculture 32.9%
GDP by Sector- Industry 17.1%
GDP by Sector- services 50.1%
GDP - composition, by end use household consumption: 77.5%

government consumption: 17.4%

investment in fixed capital: 12.4%

investment in inventories: 2.7%

exports of goods and services: 43.5%

imports of goods and services: -53.5%
Population Below Poverty Line 53%
Inflation Rate 8%
Labor Force 5,747,000
Labor Force By Occupation- agriculture 90%
Fiscal Year 1 July - 30 June
Annual Budget $1,735,000,000 (USD)
Budget Surplus or Deficit - percent of GDP -1.4%
Public Debt (% of GDP) 208.6%
Taxes and other revenues - percent of GDP 36.6%
Major Industries tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, consumer goods
Industrial Growth Rate 17.3%
Agriculture Products tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses; groundnuts, Macadamia nuts; cattle, goats
Currency Code Malawian kwacha (MWK)
Labor Force By Occupation - industry and services 10%
Child Labor - % of children ages 5-14 26%
Child Labor - # of children ages 5-14 993,318
Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate 29.5%

Labor Force by Occupation- As reported by Malawi

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