By Lusungu Black Simba – Governance and Human Rights Activist

A developed economy is typically characteristic of a developed country with a relatively high level of economic growth and security. Standard criteria for evaluating a country’s level of development are income per capita or per capita gross domestic product, the level of industrialization, the general standard of living, and the amount of technological infrastructure. Noneconomic factors, such as the human development index (HDI), which quantifies a country’s levels of education, literacy, and health into a single figure, can also be used to evaluate an economy or the degree of development. For us to make an educated response as to whether Malawi has developed, we need to look at the parameters for development analysis. Not only that but also compare them with other Regional countries. Then finally make a conclusion that is representative of all facts at play.

Malawi is said to be a landlocked, sharing its borders with Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. With an estimated population of 18.6 million as of 2019 which is expected to double by 2038. The History of Malawi covers the area of present-day Malawi. In colonial times, the territory was ruled by the British, under whose control was known first as British Central Africa and later Nyasaland. It became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953. The country achieved its independence in 1964 and a Republican status in 1966. From henceforth the country was ruled as a one-party state under Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda until 1994. The country has so far clocked 57 years after its Independence.

The concept of independence is a mix bag among Malawians. There are some people who feel that independence has brought with it tremendous socio- economic development whilst others have a contrary view. For instance, the much talked about freedom from colonial oppression that the majority of Malawians experienced has been felt or experienced. Malawians continue to grip themselves in  clutches of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy. Poverty, in this case, is understood as a multidimensional concept in that it involves lack of household income, poor living standard of people, lack of personal freedoms and liberties including lack of access to education and opportunities. Including water and nutrition. The country remains one of the least developed nations in the world given that the majority of its people (61%) live on less than a dollar per day compared to other countries whose citizens live on more than $250 to $450 per day or so.

It is extremely important to understand that freedom without food on the table is nothing. The country is not either moving or if it is then it is moving on a snail’s pace economically. Since then, the country continues to rely on foreign aid to finance around 40% of its national budget particularly the development side. The foreign aid phenomenon is not sustainable either as it has to a large extent put this country under a debt trap or distress.  There have been cases where the country has struggled to feed ever growing hungry mouths. 

Currently, as it is elsewhere issues concerning corruption, rape, defilement, violence including other related abuses targeting vulnerable women and children are among others on the rise. Aspects of extremism are slowly crippling in which pose a serious threat to the pride, safety and security of our nation.

The above withstanding, the infrastructure framework is in a terrible state. A good example of the poor state of our infrastructure is in the area of water supply, drainage system, education and health sector among others. The road infrastructure is not even talked about given the state of the road from Nkhotakota to NkhataBay and Lilongwe Kasungu let alone Nthalire, Mwanza-Neno, Usisya and Ilomba roads to name but a few. Poor planning and poor execution of such developments projects is something that goes a miss. Short term policy guidance instead of long term visioning is partly attributed to the challenges the country is faced with.

We are all aware that for the past 57 years, the country has undergone turbulent times largely because of poor leadership that has exacerbated the political uncertainties, economic instabilities due to structural adjustment programs (SAPs), moral bankruptcy in public institutions because of bureaucracy and decadency among other areas. 

The past 57 years should therefore be a period that we can draw lessons from and conclusive plans that can then help enhance the development of the country. All the pull and push factors that prompt the majority of our young men and women to be involved in irregular migration and trafficking in persons must be the things of the past.  In moving forward there is need for greater mental and moral reorientation among the CSOs, religious bodies, traditional structures, private sector, the media including politicians. Critical among other strategies could be a vigorous fight against serious and organized corruption including nepotism and ensue integration.

National integration and its benefits can be realized only with the development and entrenchment of a supportive public culture. Malawi must understand, respect and tolerate differences that are quite often occasioned by socio-cultural diversity and also develop new institutions and mechanisms that address poverty, revenue allocation and other national issues.

Given the above strategies, the country can transform its potential into success. With a huge population, its citizens can be mobilized and empowered to engage in manufacturing as China, Singapore and South Korea have done. This will change the society from a consuming country to a powerhouse into production manufacturing and exportation.

At 57, Malawi should not be groping in the dark. There have been numerous wasted opportunities, no doubt, but it takes just a right turn at any given second for a vehicle in the middle of nowhere to find its bearing. Malawi can find the right bearing if we accept that we are poor in all respects and start moving in the right direction with integrity, commitment and hardworking spirit.

Article Reproduced with Permission from Lusungu Black Simba

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