Supporting The Public Sector of Malawi



Primary education is identified as central to Malawi meeting its Millennium Development Goals. The government has been appealing to the community, faith organisations, alumni and the private sector for investment. Public spending on education was 5.4 per cent of GDP in 2011. There are eight years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Some 51 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010). Private schools include Kamuzu Academy, Saint Andrews and Zomba School. The University of Malawi, one of several public universities in the country, comprises Chancellor College, the College of Medicine, Bunda College of Agriculture, Kamuzu College of Nursing and Malawi Polytechnic. Emphasis is placed on vocational learning at Malawi’s universities, rather than a traditional school-university progression. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) is the government agency responsible for education policy, management and development.


The public sector supplies around 60 per cent of health services, with various private associations, such as the Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM), commercial providers and other non-profit actors, making up the remaining 40%. Public spending on health accounted for 7% of GDP in 2012, with the population largely considered underserviced. Private companies bridge the gap in resources in rural areas. CHAM is the major and high profile actor in the private non-profit sector. The commercial health sector totals only three per cent of all health services in Malawi. Since the 1990s, the incidence of HIV/AIDS has been among the highest in the world and AIDS treatment continues to make very heavy demands on health resources. In 2012, 11% of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive. A PPP model to tackle this issue is run by the USAID-funded Lilongwe Relief Fund Trust of Malawi in partnership with the University of North Carolina and a number of other public and private partners.

The $8.2 million Safeguard the Family Project will improve maternal and child health care delivery at more than 130 clinics in Malawi to reduce mother–child transmission of HIV and reduce maternal and infant mortality. USAID will supply $4.1 million of the total figure. In 2012, the German Government donated €20 million to strengthen public–private partnerships in reproductive health. The country lacks health care professionals, having only 33 per cent of the required amount for its population.


Air transport, airports, inland waterways, inland ports, railways, roads, and urban public and intermodal transport have all been identified by the Malawian Government as areas which could attract private investment. Road and rail links through neighbouring countries are of vital importance to Malawi, which depends on foreign ports for most of its imports and exports. The road network extends to some 28,000 km, 19 per cent of which is paved. Road improvement is a government priority and the World Bank has been assisting in road upgrading in recent years.

Rail: A railway line runs some 700 km from the western border through Lilongwe to Blantyre and the Mozambique border in the south-east, and onward to the port of Nacala. Plans were announced in 1999 for private-sector management of Malawi Railways, leading to eventual privatisation by a consortium led by the Railway Development Corporation.

Airports: The main airports are Chileka International, Blantyre and Lilongwe International, which provide services to regional hubs and beyond. The airline industry has been subject to private investment and is a big focus for development given Malawi’s land-locked position. Air Malawi, the state-owned national airline, was liquidated in 2012 due to financial problems. The airline has since been transformed into Malawi Airlines under a public–private partnership between Ethiopian Airlines (49 per cent shareholding), the Government of Malawi (20 per cent) and other Malawian partners in early 2014. It is hoped that this will create more traffic through international route linkage. The airline will provide more competitive pricing and higher service provisions, in line with other tourism initiatives. In January 2014 it was announced that Chinese investment of $250 million has been earmarked to fund the construction of Chileka International Airport in Blantyre through a public–private partnership.