The World Bank says closing the opportunity gap for women by removing barriers to their economic participation is key to boosting growth for economies in the sub-Saharan region, including Malawi.
In its October 2019 African Pulse, the Bretton Woods institution said Malawi, alongside Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, the Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe remain in the bottom ladder of growth performers in the region.
World Bank vice-president for Africa Hafez Ghanem said in a press statement accompanying the report that African policymakers face an important choice: business as usual or deliberate steps toward a more inclusive economy.
“After several years of slower-than-expected growth, closing the opportunity gap for women by removing barriers to their economic participation is the best way forward,” he said.
The bank has since indicated that average growth among non-resource intensive countries is projected to edge down, reflecting the effects of tropical cyclones in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, political uncertainty in Sudan, weaker agricultural exports in Kenya and fiscal consolidation in Senegal.
It warns that a lack of efforts to create economic opportunities and reduce risk for poor people as well as extreme poverty will become almost exclusively an African phenomenon by 2030.
The development comes two months after the bank, through its 2018 Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (Cpia) Malawi indicated that the country made no progress on improving the frameworks necessary to promote poverty reduction and sustainable growth in 2018.
The World Bank said there were improvements in some areas of social policy but that macroeconomic management weakened.
For instance, gross domestic product (GDP) has grown from 2.1 percent in 2012 to 6.3 percent in 2013, before partly declining to six percent in 2014 and falling further to 3.1 percent in 2015 and 2.9 percent in 2016.
In 2017, growth picked to 5.1 percent before declining to 4.1 percent in 2018.
As the success of any economy is primarily measured by an increase in GDP, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said the question remains why these ‘positive’ economic developments have not led to improvement in economic growth, which has remained subdued during this period.