Last updated in May 2018
Apart from the United Kingdom, Germany is the only European country to be represented in Malawi at ambassador level since the country gained independence. Political dialogue with Malawi’s Government and development cooperation are the cornerstones of bilateral relations.
German companies have made very few direct investments in Malawi.
German trade with Malawi is poorly developed and its volume largely dependent upon crop yields and price developments for raw tobacco and sugar.
Malawi’s prime imports from Germany include electrical appliances, vehicles, machines and chemicals. German exports to Malawi totalled around 17 million euros in 2016 while German imports from Malawi came to approximately 100 million euros.
In 2016, Malawi therefore ranked 133rd out of a total of 239 states and territories trading with Germany (source: Federal Statistical Office).
Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries. It ranked 170th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index published by UNDP in 2017 (data from 2015). The country has little revenue of its own to cover government expenditure, which means it is largely dependent on international donors.
The Malawian Government and the donor community have geared their development policy to the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, MGDS. The current strategy (MGDS III) runs from 2017 to 2022.
Germany is one of the country’s major bilateral donors, along with the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Norway and Ireland. The principal multilateral donors include the World Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.
Germany’s bilateral development cooperation with Malawi focuses on the priority areas basic education, health care and development of the private sector in rural areas. Important cross‑cutting issues in development cooperation are public finance management, HIV/AIDS and gender equality. Moreover, Malawi is one of the priority countries of the special initiative One World – No Hunger.
The German Government suspended direct budget support to Malawi in December 2010 owing to domestic political developments there, in particular restrictions on freedom of the press and the tightening of penal legislation. The weaknesses in terms of transparency and accountability in Malawi’s public finance system that were made public in September 2013 during what became known as the Cashgate scandal (involving the systematic misappropriation of millions of dollars in public funds) represent, for the foreseeable future, an obstacle to the resumption of direct budget support.
At the most recent biennial intergovernmental negotiations on cooperation in November 2017, the Federal Republic of Germany pledged funds for Malawi totalling 78 million euros; special funds to the tune of 31 million euros have also been set aside as part of the special initiative One World – No Hunger. As one of the least developed countries (LDC), Malawi exclusively receives grants.
Aggregate German development cooperation provided to Malawi since its independence stands at 1.12 billion euros, and at more than 1.5 billion euros if German contributions to multilateral donors are factored in.
German as a foreign language is taught at a PASCH school in Malawi. The school receives support in the form of a post for volunteers under the Federal Foreign Office’s “kulturweit” (Bridging Cultures) programme, as does the Malawi National Commission for UNESCO.
Bilateral cultural relations are also fostered by the German Embassy in Lilongwe, which provides financial support for cultural projects, organises scholarships, promotes sport and provides sports equipment.
The Myths of Malawi exhibition, which was developed in the course of a workshop for Malawian and German artists and which received significant support from the German Government, was first showcased in Malawi before touring Germany in 2016, with stops in Hanover, Berlin (at the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government) and Tübingen. In 2018, the 50th anniversary of the town twinning between Hanover and Blantyre is being celebrated.
An important contribution to cultural relations is made by German development cooperation projects in Malawi’s education and training sectors. For many years, a German‑led team of paleoanthropologists have been conducting hominid research in Malawi and were instrumental in setting up the Cultural and Museum Centre Karonga in the north of the country.
Education is a focus of German development cooperation with Malawi. Germany is helping Mali to improve training for teachers and to construct more school buildings. Furthermore, it is helping to provide school meals in order to improve both nutrition and pupils’ successful attendance of lessons at primary schools with daily school lunches. Furthermore, various private foundations, associations and initiatives collect donations in Germany and construct school buildings in Malawi.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.