Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, is a country lying off the southeastern coast of Africa. It is located in the southwestern Indian Ocean and separated from the African coast by the 250-mile-wide Mozambique Channel. It was formerly called the Malagasy Republic.
Although located some 250 miles from the African continent, Madagascar’s population is primarily related not to African people, but rather to those of Indonesia, more than 3,000 miles to the east.
The island’s animal life and vegetation are equally irregular, differing greatly from that of nearby Africa. It is the second largest island country in the world after Indonesia.
In 1958, France, the Island’s colonial masters, agreed to let its overseas territories decide their own fate. In a referendum on September 28, 1958, Madagascar voted for autonomy within the French Community. On March 26, 1960 France agreed to Madagascar becoming fully independent and on June 26, 1960, Madagascar became an independent country with Philibert Tsiranana as its first President.
Most inhabitants of Madagascar speak Malagasy, the national language, which is written in the Latin alphabet. French is also widely spoken and officially recognized. Both languages are used for teaching, especially in the upper grade levels. English is also spoken and its use has increased. Moreover, Comorian is spoken among a sizable community of immigrants from Comoros.
Between 1972 and 1975, Madagascar was under military rule. Socialist political and economic reform was instituted in 1975, and a new constitution was implemented later that year for the renamed Democratic Republic of Madagascar. The public grew increasingly dissatisfied with the political and economic conditions of the country, and by the early 1990s, the demand for change led to a gradual transition to democracy and a free market economy. In 1992, the country adopted a new name, the Republic of Madagascar, along with a new constitution that underwent subsequent revision.
In 2009, following months of political unrest, a transitional regime came to power and a new constitution was passed by referendum in November 2010. The first democratically elected president under the 2010 constitution was inaugurated in January 2014.
Madagascar’s current constitution provides for a unitary republic with a President as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government. The President is elected by popular vote to no more than two five-year terms. The President appoints the prime minister, who is presented by the majority party or coalition in the National Assembly.
The legislative branch is bicameral and consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. The members of the National Assembly are directly elected to five-year terms. The members of the Senate—one-third are presidential appointments, two-thirds are indirectly elected—also have five-year terms.
Presidential elections were held peacefully in January 2019, marking the first political alternation of power in Madagascar. President Andry Rajoelina won majority of the votes and leads the country alongside his Prime Minister, Christian Ntsay and 24 ministers.
Some ministries were merged to improve the efficiency of public administration.
Recent macroeconomic and financial developments
Prior to the COVID-19, Madagascar was on an upward growth trajectory. Following a prolonged period of political instability and economic stagnation, growth accelerated over the last five years to reach an estimated 4.4% in 2019. According to the World Bank, this represented the country’s fastest pace in over a decade.
However, the pandemic has put a brake on Madagascar’s economic growth. After the record GDP growth, the country went into a recession in 2020, with real GDP declining by 4%. Manufacturing, mining, and services were hardest hit because of containment measures, while agriculture performed well.
The crisis also put pressure on the financial sector, prompting the central bank to inject liquidity into the system but prices were contained. However, Inflation was 4.2% in 2020, compared with 5.6% in 2019.
The current account deficit declined to 3.5% of GDP in 2020, compared with 2.3% in 2019. This was because of the drop in exports, an abrupt halt in tourism, and a decline in foreign direct investment.
The pandemic also upset public finance with tax revenues falling whiles spending increased significantly as the government took steps to mitigate the COVID–19 crisis. As a result, the budget deficit depreciated to 6.3% of GDP in 2020 from 1.4% in 2019.
OUTLOOK AND RISKS
The African Development Bank (AfDB) indicated that if the pandemic subsides during the first half of 2021, Madagascar’s outlook is favourable for a return to growth, with real GDP projected to grow 3.5% in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022.
The AfDB also expects that the impact of the crisis will continue to be felt in public finances in 2021. According to the bank, the financing needed for economic recovery was estimated at $820 million in 2021, resulting in a budget deficit of 4.6% of GDP in 2021, which would narrow to 3.8% in 2022.
On the demand side, the recovery should be supported by a rebound in both public and private investment. A resumption of exports of nickel, cobalt, and vanilla is also expected to aid recovery, as the global economy and international trade improve. However, the current account deficit is expected to remain high at 5% of GDP in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022.
Job losses estimated at 27% in the formal sector are also expected to gradually decline in 2021 as the economy recovers. The main risks to the outlook, according to AfDB are a new wave of COVID–19 infections and weather shocks, such as drought, cyclones, and floods.
Madagascar’s debt-to-GDP ratio also declined to 44.8% in 2020 from 38.7% in 2019. In 2020, public debt was mainly external. Madagascar owed foreign creditors an amount equivalent to 32.6% of GDP, while domestic debt was 12.2% of GDP.
Slightly more than three-quarters of the foreign debt was owed to multilateral institutions, 19% was bilateral, and about 5% was commercial. Domestic debt was mostly in treasury bills. AfDB posits that with a low ratio of tax revenues to GDP, Madagascar may need to focus on increased mobilization of public revenues to support the financing of economic recovery and to preserve the long-term sustainability of its debt.
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, AND FISHING
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is Madagascar's largest industry and employs 82% of its labor force. Madagascar's varied climate, ranging from tropical along the coasts, moderate in the highlands and dry in the south, allows for the cultivation of tropical crops such as rice, cassava, beans and bananas as well as cash crops such as vanilla and coffee.
Sugarcane is grown on plantations in the northwest, around Mahajanga, and on the east coast near Toamasina. Cassava is a staple, grown all over the island, and potatoes and yams are cultivated mainly in the highland region of Ankaratra.
Bananas are produced commercially on the east coast, and corn (maize) is grown mainly on the central plateau, in the south, and in the west. Fruits grown include apples, grapefruits, avocados, plums, grapes, oranges, litchis, pineapples, guavas, papayas, passion fruits, and bananas.
Robusta coffee is grown on the east coast and arabica coffee on the plateau. Other significant crops are beans, peanuts (groundnuts), pois du cap (lima beans), coconuts, pepper, vanilla, cacao, sisal, raffia, tobacco, copra, cotton, and castor beans.
Madagascar’s waters are rich in marine wildlife, including a variety of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. The country’s industrialized fisheries sector has experienced great expansion, and the export of shrimp and prawns, in particular, provides a significant source of revenue. Overfishing threatens the sector, although fish farming— especially along the western coast— has been increasingly developed as an alternative. There is considerable raising of fish in the irrigated rice fields, mainly for home consumption.
Vanilla is by far the most expensive spice in the world. The Sava Region in north-eastern Madagascar delivers about 80% of world's vanilla.
For a generation, the price languished below $50 a kilo (about 2.2 pounds). But in 2015, it began to rise at an extraordinary rate and for the past years has hovered at 10 times that amount, between $400 and $600 per kilogram— approximately the price of silver
Agriculture is Madagascar’s largest sector thanks in large part to vanilla. Approximately, 10% of Madagascar’s GDP is said to come from the vanilla industry.
Manufacturing is an area of success in Madagascar, greatly inspired by the formation of the export processing zone (EPZ) in 1996, which offers tax exemptions for export-focused industries.
The project has grown to include 150 companies and has generated 80,000 jobs, producing 37.4 percent of Madagascar's foreign trade revenue. Its main products are clothing (48 percent), handicrafts (13 percent), and agro-processing (9 percent).
Textiles are another important export, supported by Madagascar's cotton industry and low wage rates. It also accounts for 15 percent of manufacturing production. Other products include plastics, pharmaceuticals, leather goods, footwear, tobacco, paper pulp, fertilizer, oils, soap, sugar, beer, cement, and foods and beverages.
Industrial centres are located mainly in and around Antananarivo, Antsirabe, and Toamasina.
Madagascar holds an extensive deposit of minerals. Industrial mining activities in Madagascar include the production of chromium, cobalt, ilmenite, and nickel.
Ambatovy, located in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, is one of the world’s largest lateritic nickel mines with a production capacity of 60,000 tonnes (132.2 million pounds) of nickel and 5,300 tonnes (12.3 million pounds) of cobalt per year. Valued at US$8 billion, Ambatovy Project is the single largest capital project in the history of Madagascar.
The Ambatovy Project makes a significant contribution to job creation in Madagascar. Since operations began on the site, it has created more than 18,000 jobs at the peak of the construction phase. It currently employs 3,273 people (2,852 men, 421 women) for operations at the mine site and processing plant. Additionally, it employs 5,000 subcontractors in the procurement of 40% of its purchases. 90% of the current Ambatovy employees are Malagasy nationals.
Ambatovy also accounts for approximately 32% of Madagascar’s foreign exchange earnings, a substantial contribution to the economy.
Additionally, artisanal and small-scale mining operations concentrating mainly on gold, precious and semi-precious stones employ over 500,000 people across the country
The country is considered to be a new frontier for oil and gas prospecting, but oil exploration remains limited, both on and off-shore.
Madagascar is one of the world's most biologically diverse areas, and it’s internationally renowned as a wildlife tourism and ecotourism destination, focusing on lemurs, birds, and orchids. The indri is the largest of the lemur species and very popular amongst tourists, who travel to observe them at the Analamazoatra Reserve, four hours away from the capital, Antananarivo. The presence of the indri has helped to make the Analamazoatra Reserve one of Madagascar's most popular tourist attractions.
Also, historical sites can be found throughout the country. The Royal Palace and the sacred hill of Ambohimanga, both located around Antananarivo are very popular tourist sites and amongst the Unesco world heritage listed sites.
However, despite a high potential for tourism, experts say Madagascar’s tourism sector is underdeveloped. Last year, the island’s government set a goal of attracting 500,000 foreign tourists annually, with the aim of using tourism as a driver of employment, private sector growth, and foreign exchange earnings.
The Rajoelina administration intends to leverage Madagascar’s renowned biodiversity to entice foreign and domestic travel and investment across the country, through partnerships with leading hotel chains, tour operators, cruise ships, and the likes.
The banking sector in Madagascar includes eleven commercial banks, of which nine are subsidiaries of foreign banks. The sector is highly concentrated with the four main banks holding 86 percent of loans.
As of December 2019, the assets of all eleven banks totaled MGA 12,198 billion (approximately $3.37 billion) or 24 percent of GDP. Private sector loans amounted to MGA 6,677 billion ($1.8 billion), or 54.7 percent of total assets and 13 percent of GDP.
The official currency is the ariary, which replaced the Malagasy franc in 2003. Prior to that, the Malagasy franc had replaced the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc in 1963. The Central Bank issues all currency.
The climate is governed by the combined effects of the moisture-bearing southeast trade and northwest monsoon winds as they blow across the central plateau. The trade winds, which blow throughout the year, are strongest from May to October.
The hot, wet season extends from November to April and the cooler, drier season from May to October. The monsoon, bringing rain to the northwest coast of Madagascar and the plateau, is most noticeable during the hot, humid season.
July is normally the coolest month on the Island whiles December is the hottest.
PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE
About seven-eighths of the island is covered with prairie grasses and bamboo or small thin trees. There also are screw pines, palms, and reeds on the coasts.
Because of the island’s isolation, many zoologically primitive primates have survived and evolved into unique forms. About 40 species of lemurs are indigenous to Madagascar. Several unique hedgehoglike insectivores, such as the tenrec, have evolved there, and there are also many kinds of chameleons of varying size. Birds are numerous and they include guinea fowl, partridges, pigeons, herons, ibis, flamingos, egrets, cuckoos, Asian robins, and several kinds of birds of prey. There are about 800 species of butterflies, many moths, and a variety of spiders.
The only large or dangerous animals are the crocodiles, which occupy the rivers. Snakes on the Island, including the do, which is 10 to 13 feet in length, are harmless.
The coelacanth, referred to as a living fossil and once thought extinct for millions of years, inhabits offshore waters.
ART & CULTURE
Most traditional Malagasy music revolves around favourite dance rhythms; the salegy of the Sakalava tribe, with both Indonesian and Kenyan influences; watsa watsa from Mozambique and the Congo; the tsapika, originating in the south; and the sigaoma, similar to South African music.
The most widely played traditional wind instrument is the kiloloka, a whistle-like length of bamboo capable of only one note.
Textiles have always played a huge part in Malagasy society, with some types of cloth even being imbued with supernatural powers, according to locals. The Merina use cocoons collected from wild silkworms to make highly valued textiles called lamba mena (red silk). The silks are woven in many colors and pattern combinations and used in burial and reburial ceremonies.
The earliest Malagasy literature dates from historical records was produced in the mid-19th century. Modern poetry and literature began to flourish in the 1930s and 1940s. The best-known figure was the poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, who committed suicide in 1947 at the age of 36, reputedly after the colonial administration decided to send a group of basket weavers to France to represent the colony instead of him.
Modern-day literary figures include Michèle Rakotoson, Johary Ravaloson, David Jaomanoro, Elie Rajaonarison, Jean-Luc Raharimanana and Naivoharisoa Patrick Ramamonjisoa, who goes by the pen name of Naivo. Most of their works are published in French.
The three most popular sports on the Island are moraingy, a traditional martial art with similarities to Thai boxing, Petanque, in which the Malagasy have twice been world champions (1999 and 2016), and rugby union, in which they have twice reached the final of the Africa Cup.
However, Football is becoming widely popular on the Island especially after the national soccer team, Les Barea, managed to qualify and reach the quarter-finals of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast.
The country owes its name to the 15th-century Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, the first European to sight and map Freetown harbour. The original Portuguese name, Serra Lyoa meaning “Lion Mountains”, referred to the range of hills that surrounds the harbour. The capital, Freetown, commands one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
The country has a special significance in the history of the transatlantic slave trade; as the departure point for thousands of West African captives, it was founded as a home for repatriated former slaves in 1787.
Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain on 27th April 1961, led by Milton Margai, who became the country's first Prime Minister. It held its first general elections as an Independent nation on May 25, 1962, and Margai's Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and its allies won the vast majority of seats in Parliament.
The country's modern history has been overshadowed by a brutal civil war that ended in 2002 with the help of ECOWAS, Britain and a large United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, each with its own language and customs. The two largest and most influential are the Temne and Mende people. The Temne are predominantly found in the northwest and the Mende in the southeast.
English is the official language used in schools and government administration. However, the Krio is the most widely spoken language across Sierra Leone, and is spoken by 98% of the country's population. The Krio language unites all the ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction.
Sierra Leone is 77 per cent Muslim, with an influential Christian minority of 22 per cent. The country is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other very peacefully, and religious violence is very rare. The major Christian and Muslim holidays are official public holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.
Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of the Government of Sierra Leone is based on the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution.
In 1991, a group of mainly disgruntled, sacked and imprisoned former Sierra Leone soldiers, led by former Corporal Foday Sankoh launched a brutal civil war in the country on March 23, 1991 under their official name the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
On 29 April 1992, a group of junior soldiers in the Sierra Leone Army led by a 25-year-old Captain Valentine Strasser overthrew President Momoh, and Sierra Leone was under military rule from 1992 to 1996 during the civil war. In January 1996, military Head of State, Captain Strasser himself was overthrown by a junta led by his own deputy Brigadier General, Julius Maada Bio.
The country returned to a democratically elected government when the military Junta under Julius Maada Bio handed the presidency to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP after his victory in the 1996 election. However, the Sierra Leone military overthrew President Kabbah in a coup on 25 May 1997, and Major General Johnny Paul Koroma became the country's military head of state.
A coalition of West African ECOWAS armed forces led by Nigeria reinstated President Kabbah by military force in February 1998. The leaders of the coup that overthrew President Kabbah were executed after they were sentenced to death by a Sierra Leone military court.
In January 2002, President Kabbah announced the end of the civil war with primarily the help of ECOWAS, the British government and the African Union. Sierra Leone has had an uninterrupted democratic government from 1998 to present.
The current president of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, is a former military junta leader. Mr Bio, took part in a military coup during the country's civil war in 1992 to overthrow the military junta and in 1996 overthrew the military again and that paved the way for free elections that year.
Mr Bio, in 2018, contested in the Presidential election and defeated Samura Kamara of the ruling All People's Congress in the country's tightly contested election.
The executive branch of the Government of Sierra Leone, headed by the President of Sierra Leone, has extensive powers and influences. The President is the most powerful government official in Sierra Leone. He is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers, which must be approved by the Parliament. He is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms. The president is the highest and most influential position within the government of Sierra Leone.
Next to the president is the Vice-president, who is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Sierra Leone Government. As designated by the Sierra Leone Constitution, the Vice-President is to become the new president of Sierra Leone upon the death, resignation, or removal of the President.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone is unicameral, with 124 seats. Each of the country's fourteen districts is represented in parliament. 112 members are elected concurrently with the presidential elections; the other 12 seats are filled by paramount chiefs from each of the country's 12 administrative districts. The Sierra Leone parliament is led by the Speaker of Parliament, who is the overall leader of Parliament and is directly elected by sitting members of parliament.
The judicial power of Sierra Leone is vested in the judiciary, headed by the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone and comprising the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, which is the highest court in the country, meaning that its rulings therefore cannot be appealed against. Other courts include the High Court of Justice, the Court of Appeal, the magistrate courts, and traditional courts in rural villages. The President appoints and parliament approves Justices for the three courts.
The country is divided into four administrative units—the Western Area, which was the former crown colony of Sierra Leone, and three provinces (Northern, Eastern, and Southern provinces), which were the former protectorate. The Western Area includes the capital, Freetown. The Northern Province is divided into five districts; the Southern Province into four; and Eastern Province into three.
The districts are subdivided into chiefdoms, which are controlled by paramount chiefs and chiefdom councillors. The chiefdoms are further divided into sections and villages. The chiefs are hereditary rulers whose local powers have been largely superseded by those of officials of the central and local government. Their influence remains important, however, particularly in matters of traditional culture and justice.
Macroeconomic performance and outlook
By the 1990s, economic activity was declining and economic infrastructure had become seriously degraded. Over the following decade, much of the formal economy was destroyed in the country's civil war. Since the end of hostilities in January 2002, massive infusions of outside assistance have helped Sierra Leone begin its recovery.
According to the IMF, GDP growth accelerated to 5.1% GDP in 2019, driven by agricultural, mining and construction activities. According to the updated IMF forecasts from 14th April 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, GDP growth is expected at -2.3% in 2020 and pick up to 4% in 2021, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
Despite efforts to mitigate the rise in debt, it remains substantial and Sierra Leone is classified as being at high risk of debt distress. According to the IMF, public debt stood at 64.5% of GDP in 2019 and is expected to remain high in 2020 (65.4%) and 2021 (65.9%).
The African Development Bank has also stated the overall fiscal deficit improved from 5.8% of GDP in 2018 to 3.5% of GDP in 2019, but is financed in part by the accumulation of arrears, which currently stand at 10% of GDP.
Likewise, according to the latest IMF forecasts, the current account deficit, (-18.7%) of GDP in 2018, improved to an estimated -13.9% in 2019. It currently stands at -12.1% of GDP in 2020 but it’s projected to decrease to -14.3% in 2021.
The World Economic Outlook of the IMF in April also determined that although declining, inflation remains high (14.8% in 2019) and is expected to remain above the ECOWAS convergence criterion (10%) in 2020 (15.4%) and 2021 (15.3%).
Unemployment among young people reached 50% and more than 90% of the population has a vulnerable job.
Until the outbreak of Ebola in May 2014, Sierra Leone was seeking to attain middle-income status by 2035, but the country still carries its post-conflict attributes of high youth unemployment, corruption and weak governance. The country continues to face the daunting challenge of enhancing transparency in managing its natural resources and creating fiscal space for development. Problems of poor infrastructure and widespread rural and urban impoverishment persist despite remarkable strides and reforms.
Sierra Leone’s economic recovery from the Ebola epidemic (more than 14,100 cases, 3,900 deaths and a revenue loss equivalent to 29% of the country’s GDP according to the WHO) also represent some developmental setbacks for the country.
- Population: 7.9 million
- GDP (PPP): $10.90 billion
- -2.3% growth
- $1710.850 per capita
- Unemployment: 4.4%
- Inflation (CPI): 14.8%
- FDI Inflow: $367.7 million
Agriculture, with an average contribution exceeding half of GDP in recent years, remains the main driver of growth, along with demand driven by consumption and investment. The government launched the National Development Plan to guide development over a period of five years (2019-2023), with the National Agricultural Transformation program seeking to double agricultural production by attracting and retaining large investments and helping smallholders transition from subsistence farming.
More than three-fifths of the population engage in agricultural production, primarily for the domestic market but some also for export. Rice, the main food crop, is widely cultivated on swampland and upland farms. Other food crops include millet, peanuts (groundnuts), cassava (manioc), sweet potatoes, and oil palms.
The major cash crops are palm kernels, cocoa, coffee, piassava, and ginger, and production is carried out entirely by small-scale farmers.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), local rice production contributes 75% of agricultural GDP and Sierra Leone’s annual per capital consumption of rice is amongst the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.
Most rice is produced in upland systems, which account for 64% of total national rice area. Inland valley swamp systems are the second major ecosystem, covering another 26%.
Sierra Leone’s many waterways are the home of many varieties of fish, such as bonga (a type of shad), butterfish, snapper, and sole. The coastal waters contain such shellfish as shrimp, lobster, and oysters. The country should be an ideal place for commercial fishing, but illegal activity by foreign fisheries and the years of civil war have severely affected this sector. After the end of the civil war, the sector began to show gradual improvement.
In April 2020, Sierra Leone took a drastic action to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in its territorial waters in a bid to protect its valuable marine resources.
The government declared a one-month ban on industrial fishing, much of which is undertaken by unregulated Chinese and South Korean fishing boats.
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) made an assessment of the potential contribution of one of the country’s major natural resources—fisheries—to future economic recovery and it confirmed that the fish resources of Sierra Leone have an estimated capitalised economic value of USD 735 million, and could potentially make an increased contribution to GDP under suitable conditions, over and above the current estimated level of 10 per cent.
Common livestock in Sierra Leone are cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. The civil war seriously depleted the level of livestock in the country, although numbers have recovered since the end of the war in 2002. Most cattle are of the typanotolerant N'Dama breed and are found in the north of the country. Cattle farming is dominated by the Fula ethnic group who own the majority of cattle in the country and often manage cattle owned by other groups. Poultry farming consists mainly of chickens, with some guinea fowl and Muscovy ducks.
Industrialization is restricted largely to import substitution. Manufacturing is concentrated in Freetown, and production is mainly of consumer goods, such as cigarettes, sugar, alcoholic beverages, soap, footwear, textiles, mineral fuels, and lubricants.
Although factories are small and generally employ fewer than 1,000 workers each, their role in economic diversification is important. Farther inland, industries are focused on the processing of agricultural and forest produce, such as rice, timber, and palm oil. Traditional industries, such as fish curing and leatherwork, continue.
Sierra Leone is endowed with rich natural resources. The mining industry is dominated by large-scale producers of iron ore, diamonds, rutile, and bauxite as well as small-scale and artisanal mining of gold. The country possesses one of the largest rutile reserves in the world.
Mining employs a large segment of the population and provides a significant contribution to the national economy. According to the Extractive Industry Transparency International (EITI), mining contributes to over 20 percent to GDP, constitutes over 80 percent of export earnings and directly employs over 30,000 people with an estimated 300,000 people benefiting indirectly from the sector.
The banking sector in Sierra Leone includes 14 commercial banks, 17 community banks, 59 Financial Services Associations (FSA), 13 MFIs (2 deposit taking and 11 credit only), and three mobile money operators. The commercial banking sector accounts for 99 percent of all financial sector assets. There are 11 foreign banks, two state owned banks, and one domestic bank.
The Bank of Sierra Leone is the country’s central bank. It issues currency (the leone), maintains external reserves, and acts as banker and financial adviser to the government. The National Development Bank is charged with providing finances to investors within the country. The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank provides credit and technical assistance to farmers.
The climate is tropical and characterized by the alternation of rainy and dry seasons. Conditions are generally hot and humid. During the rainy season, from May to October, the sky is cloudy, the winds are south-westerly, sunshine is minimal, and rain falls almost daily, especially during July and August.
The dry season, from November to April, is characterized by the harmattan, a hot, dry wind that blows from the Sahara.
Tourism in Sierra Leone has become the most dynamic and fastest growing industry. The government identified tourism as a priority sector for development and as such, it has been structured into the largest contributor to the economy after mining and agriculture.
According to the International Labour Organisation statistics, about 8,000 jobs in Sierra Leone are tourism dependents.
The main attractions for tourist in Sierra Leone are the beaches, nature reserves, mountains and the islands. Tourism in Sierra Leone is highly beach oriented. The whole Western Coastline from Aberdeen to Kent comprises a series of excellent beaches.
The beach areas of Sierra Leone fall into seven groups; Sulima, Turner’s Peninsular, Sherbro Peninsular, Shenge, Freetown Peninsular, Lungi Beaches and Scarcies Estuary.
The Cotton Tree is a unique landmark that represents the great history of Freed Slaves in the free-land called Sierra Leone with a defining Capital City name called “FREETOWN.” The Cotton Tree is said to be over 500 years Old. During the arrival of the returnees (Black Freed Slaves) this unique landmark was used to be a resting place and even a prayer ground for these people because of the shade of the tree.
One of the main tourist attractions in West Africa is the Banana Islands, a group of islands that lie off the coast of Yawri Bay, southwest of the Freetown Peninsula in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. Three islands make up the Banana Islands: Dublin and Ricketts are linked by a stone causeway. The third Mes-Meheux is uninhabited. Dublin Island is known for its beaches, while Ricketts Island is best known for its forests.
Art & Culture
The most outstanding feature of the country’s cultural life is its dancing. The internationally known Sierra Leone National Dance Troupe first won widespread acclaim at the 1964–65 New York World’s fair and continues to perform in the 21st century. The different communities of the country have their own styles of costume and dance.
In addition, some societies including the Wunde, the Sande (Bundu), and the Gola, have characteristic ceremonial dances. A wide range of agility, gracefulness, and rhythm is displayed with elements of symbolism in most of the dances. Drums, wooden xylophones called balaphones, and various stringed instruments provide the musical background.
The weaving of cloth, typically blue, brown, white, or a combination of these colours, is carried out by the Mende and the Kono in the southern and eastern regions. Thread spun from the cotton bush Gossypium is used in weaving. This handwoven cloth is an important item used in many ceremonies and rituals. The cloth is made into coats for men or is worn as a wraparound lower-body garment by women and is also used as a bedspread.
In the north, among the Temne, imported cotton or satin is tie-dyed in beautiful patterns with indigo, the red juice of the kola nut, or imported dyes. In the west, baskets are made with dyed raffia, and patterned slippers are fashioned from dyed wool.
There has been a literary tradition in Freetown since the 19th century. One of the most prolific writers was James Africanus Beale Horton, who wrote books and pamphlets on politics, science, and medicine while serving as a medical officer in the British army between 1857 and 1871. A.B.C. Sibthorpe, lauded as the first Sierra Leonean historian of Sierra Leone, wrote one of the earliest accounts of his country’s history in 1868.
More-recent works by Syl Cheney Coker and Lemuel Johnson have contributed to Sierra Leone’s literary tradition. Sierra Leone also has representation in the world of theatre with playwrights Dele Charley and Yulisa Amadu (“Pat”) Maddy.
Rice is the staple food of Sierra Leone and is consumed at virtually every meal daily. The rice is prepared in numerous ways, and topped with a variety of sauces made from some of Sierra Leone's favourite toppings, including potato leaves, cassava leaves, crain crain, okra soup, fried fish and groundnut stew.
Along the streets of towns and cities across Sierra Leone, one can find foods consisting of fruit, vegetables and snacks such as fresh mangoes, oranges, pineapple, fried plantains, ginger beer, fried potato, fried cassava with pepper sauce; small bags of popcorn or peanuts, bread, roasted corn, or skewers of grilled meat or shrimp.
Poyo is a popular Sierra Leonean drink. It is a sweet, lightly fermented palm wine, and is found in bars in towns and villages across the country. Poyo bars are areas of lively informal debate about politics, football, basketball, entertainment and other issues.
Sierra Leone is officially a secular state. Islam and Christianity are the two main religions in the country. About two-thirds of the population are Muslims, while about one-fourth are Christians. Less than one-tenth of the population practice a variety of traditional religions.
The constitution of Sierra Leone provides for freedom of religion and the Sierra Leone Government generally protects it.
Association football is by far the most popular sport in Sierra Leone. Children, youth and adult are frequently seen playing street football across Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone national football team, popularly known as the Leone Stars, represents the country in international competitions.
It has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup but participated in the 1994 and 1996 African Cup of Nations. Some of Sierra Leonean international footballers include Mohamed Kallon, Mohamed Bangura, Rodney Strasser, Kei Kamara, Ibrahim Teteh Bangura, Mustapha Dumbuya, Christian Caulker, Alhassan Bangura, Sheriff Suma, Mohamed Kamara, Umaru Bangura and Julius Gibrilla Woobay.
Basketball is another major sport with the Sierra Leone national basketball team representing Sierra Leone in international men's basketball competitions and is controlled by the Sierra Leone Basketball Federation.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa’s Saharan and Sahelian region. Mali is bounded on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger and Burkina Faso, on the south by Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, and on the west by Senegal and Mauritania.
It is the eighth-largest country in Africa with a relatively small population, largely centred along the Niger River. The name Mali stems from Mali Empire and means "the place where the king lives” carrying a connotation of strength.
Map of Mali
The country was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade; Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. For centuries, its northern city of Timbuktu was a key regional trading post and centre of Islamic culture. The fabled trading and learning centre of Timbuktu is situated in Mali on the upper Niger River.
By 1905, the country was under firm French control as a part of French Sudan and headed by either a governor or a lieutenant governor. Bamako located on the Niger River, became the colony’s capital and still remains the national capital. Mali gained independence on September 22, 1960. After a long period of one-party rule, a coup in 1991 led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.
French is the official language of Mali whiles national languages like Bambara and Fula are taught in schools. Mande languages including Bambara, Malinke, Khasonke, Wasulunka, and Soninke have the largest number of speakers. The Gur branch which includes Bwa, Moore, Senufo, and Minianka languages and the Atlantic branch which includes Fula, Tukulor and Dogon are also represented.
Colonel Assimi Goïta, Mali’s Junta Head
After a Military Coup in August 2020, the country is governed by a military junta, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), which has promised elections and transition to civilian rule in the near future. The CNSP is headed by Colonel Assimi Goïta effectively making him the Head of State.
The coup, while cheered by many in Mali, was met with regional and international condemnation.
According to the constitution, Executive power is vested in a president, who is elected to a five-year term by universal suffrage limited to two terms.
The president serves as the chief of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. A prime minister appointed by the president serves as head of government and in turn appoints the Council of Ministers. The prime minister also acts as a member of the cabinet of ministers which adopts proposals for laws submitted to the National Assembly.
The unicameral National Assembly is Mali's sole legislative body, consisting of deputies elected to five-year terms. The assembly holds two regular sessions each year, during which it debates and votes on legislation that has been submitted by a member or by the government.
The Legislation has the right to question government ministers about government actions and policies.
As the head of the judicial system, the Supreme Court exercises both judicial and administrative powers. The Supreme Court members are appointed by the Ministry of Justice. The Constitutional Court reviews constitutionality of law. The Constitutional Court members are elected- 3 each by the president, the National Assembly, and the Supreme Council of the Magistracy.
The High Court of Justice tries cases relating to malfeasance of senior government officials. Justices of the peace have full powers to judge ordinary civil, commercial, and financial cases.
The country is divided into the eight régions of Gao, Kayes, Kidal, Koulikoro, Mopti, Ségou, Sikasso, and Tombouctou and the district of Bamako. Each of the régions is further divided into administrative units called cercles, which are in turn subdivided into arrondissements. Each région is administered by a governor, who coordinates the activities of the cercles and implements economic policy. The cercles provide nuclei for the major government services; their various headquarters provide focal points for health services, the army, the police, local courts, and other government agencies.
The arrondissement is the basic administrative unit, and its centre usually houses a school and a dispensary. It is composed of several villages, which are headed by chiefs and elected village councils.
Security problems continued to plague Mali during President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s second term, which contributed to growing frustration among the populace with his administration. A weak economy and allegations of corruption also fed the discontent. National Assembly elections, repeatedly postponed due to insecurity, were finally held in March and April 2020.
Highlighting the precarious security situation, was the kidnapping in March of opposition leader, Soumaïla Cissé while he was campaigning for the elections. On April 30, the Constitutional Court overturned the provisional results for some 30 seats, which then resulted in an increase in the number of seats won by Keïta’s party, effectively kicking off months of protests by the opposition. ECOWAS made attempts to mediate the crisis but was not successful.
On August 18, 2020, military troops marched to Bamako and arrested Keïta, the prime minister, and other senior officials. Hours later, Keïta announced that he was resigning. He also dissolved the government and National Assembly. A military junta, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, assumed control.
MALI ECONOMIC OUTPUT
Macroeconomic performance and outlook
Despite security crisis, Mali’s economy has remained resilient, as the country recorded a 5% real GDP growth (driven by good gold and cotton production) in 2019. The African Development Bank (AfDB) also projects that improving the political and security situation should allow for growth. According to United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) projects real GDP growth of the economy of Mali will be 0.9% in 2020.
However, in response to the deteriorating security situation, military and other security related spending have been taking up an increasing share of public spending at the cost of much needed social spending. As a result, the country faces critical infrastructure deficits with only 3% of the classified road network blacktopped and in good order, as well as an electricity gap is 140MW. In addition, only 75% of children are in primary education, and 41% in secondary education whiles 75% of the population lacks access to health services.
The GDP per capita of Mali in 2019 was 890.7 USD equivalent to 6% of the world's average, according to the World Bank whiles tax revenue is a weak 14.3% of GDP, below the ECOWAS standard of 20%.
The number of jobs created every year (44,520 jobs) cannot absorb labour supply (300,000). The workforce’s poor qualifications are aggravated by discrepancy between the supply of training and the requirements of the labour market.
Mali is a part of the "Franc Zone" (Zone Franc), which means that it uses the CFA franc. Mali is connected with the French government by agreement since 1962 (creation of BCEAO). Today all seven countries of Franc Zone use the BCEAO as their Central Bank.
Mali's great potential wealth lies in mining and the production of agricultural commodities, livestock, and fish. The most productive agricultural area lies along the banks of the Niger River, the Inner Niger Delta and the south-western region around Sikasso.
The total value of exports and imports of goods and services equals 61.4 percent of GDP. Mali imports for 2019 was $5.98B, a 1.6% decline from 2018. The main imports are petroleum, machinery and equipment, construction materials, food, and textiles.
Mali’s exports for 2019 was $4.03B, a 3.73% decline from 2018. Gold and cotton account for the bulk of Mali’s export revenues. Other major export commodities are livestock and fish
The economy remains under industrialized, and the manufacturing industry struggles to develop. This leads to an enormous need for imports and to a current account in deficit of 5.4% of GDP in 2019.
Remittances from Malians working abroad are an imperative source of income. Mali’s major trading partners are China and other Asian countries, neighbouring countries, South Africa, and France.
Agriculture, livestock and fishery signify 32.9% of Mali’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Subsistence and commercial agriculture are the bases of the Malian economy. Some four-fifths of the working population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the government supports the development of commercial products.
An agricultural area of major importance is the inland Niger delta. Millet, rice, wheat, and corn (maize), as well as yams and cassava (are the main subsistence crops, while cotton is an important commercial crop. Peanuts (groundnuts), sugarcane, tobacco, and tea are also grown for market.
Market gardens produce a variety of vegetables and fruits, including cabbages, turnips, carrots, beans, tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, and oranges. Irrigation projects have been developed on the Niger near the towns of Ségou and Mopti.
Eighty percent of Malian workers are employed in agriculture. Seasonal variations lead to regular temporary unemployment of agricultural workers.
Rice is grown comprehensively along the banks of the Niger river between Ségou and Mopti, with the most important rice-producing area at the Office du Niger, located north of Ségou toward the Mauritanian border. Using water diverted from the Niger river, the Office du Niger irrigates about 600 km of land for rice and sugarcane production. About one-third of Mali's paddy rice is produced at the Office du Niger.
Sorghum is planted extensively in the drier parts of the country and along the banks of the Niger in eastern Mali, as well as in the lake beds in the Niger delta region. During the wet season, farmers near the town of Dire have cultivated wheat on irrigated fields for hundreds of years. Peanuts are grown throughout the country but are concentrated in the area around Kita, west of Bamako.
Mali owns the most significant livestock population in West Africa. Stockbreeding plays a crucial role in Mali’s economy. It accounts for 10.8 % of GDP and represents the third largest export. The major areas for livestock raising (cattle, sheep, and goats) are the Sahel and the region around Macina. There is a high demand for Malian cattle and meat.
Mali has one the most plentiful fisheries in the Sahel with a potential of more than 200.000 tons. Mali provides 40% of the fresh water fish production in West Africa thanks to Rivers Niger and Senegal making one of the largest producers of fish in western Africa. The two major fishing zones are the Lake zones-Selingue and Manantali and the flooded zones -Central Niger Delta. About 80% of the catches are processed on a small scale by producers into smoked, dried and burned fish.
Industry signifies 21.3% of the country’s GDP. Mali is involved in food processing, textiles, cigarettes, fish processing, metalworking, light manufacturing, plastics and beverage bottling.
Less than one-fifth of the labour force is employed in industry, and many people are involved in small-scale commerce. Most manufacturing enterprises process food and other agricultural products or make construction materials or consumer goods, the bulk of production being for the domestic market.
Products include cotton fibre, printed cloth, and blankets. There are also shops for the construction of motorcycles, the repair of machinery, and the assembly of radios. Handicrafts are important, and the Malians are noted for their clothing, pottery, shoes, baskets, and wood carvings.
This sector reports for a significant part of the national economy, representing 12% of GDP. Mali was always seen as a country gifted with a genuine mining potential. This was verified by a large number of historical references as well as recognized artisan mining activity, which is still being carried out.
Gold represents Mali’s primary export and the country is the third-biggest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana. Mali’s commercial mines have produced over 10 Moz of gold since 1990, and their measured and designated resources total approximately 25 Moz. There are currently seven active commercial mining operations in Mali: Sadiola, Yatela, Morila, Syama, Loulo, Tabakoto and kalana. Other natural resources mined include kaolin, salt, phosphate, and limestone
Mali however, has many mineral deposits that are not commercially exploited, owing to the country’s limited infrastructure. Iron is the most widespread, with deposits found in the west near the Senegal and Guinea borders. Bauxite deposits are located near Kayes and on the Mandingue Plateau. Manganese is also found, and there are phosphate deposits in the area around Ansongo. Lithium has been discovered near Kayes and Bougouni, and there are uranium deposits in the Iforas. There are also small quantities of tungsten, tin, lead, copper, and zinc.
Electricity is largely produced in thermal power stations, but the role of hydroelectric power is growing. Thermal stations are located in Bamako and other large towns. Energie du Mali (EDM) is an electric company that provides electricity to Malian citizens. Solar-powered pumps provide electricity to some villages, and the world’s first commercial solar-power station was established at Diré.
Mali is endowed with renewable energy resources and according to the index of geopolitical gains and losses after energy transition (GeGaLo Index), it can gain significant benefits from the global transition to renewable energy. It is ranked no. 11 among 156 nations in the GeGaLo Index.
The existence of hydrocarbons in Mali has been known since the 1970s, when very scattered seismic and drilling tests gave strong indications of oil resources. But a turbulent political history and the very remoteness of the Malian part of the Sahara Desert have prevented further serious investigations into the possibility of worthwhile oil production in the country.
The country has a good potential for oil and gas exploration with links to North African basins, stretching from north-west Africa to Arabia, which links the Taoudeni Basin prospectively to the prolific Palaeozoic basins of Libya and Algeria.
Mali therefore remains a basically unexplored country, offering excellent frontier basin opportunities to companies prepared to take the challenge.
Mali, along with seven other French-speaking countries in Western Africa, is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine). These countries share a common bank, the Central Bank of West African States (Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), which is headquartered in Dakar, Senegal. The bank issues the currency used by the member countries, the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc, officially pegged to the euro since 2002.
Mali has several commercial banks, development banks, and other financial institutions. Several French insurance companies maintain offices in Bamako. A regional stock exchange based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and serving Mali has a branch in Bamako.
Mali lies within the inter-tropical zone and has a hot, dry climate, with the sun near its apex throughout most of the year. In general, there are two distinct seasons, dry and wet. The dry season, which lasts from November to June, is marked by low humidity and high temperatures and is influenced by the alize and harmattan winds.
During the rainy season, from June to October, the monsoon wind blows from the southwest. Preceded by large black clouds, the heavy rainstorms often include gusty winds and much lightning and thunder. Temperatures are somewhat lower in August, when most of the rainfall occurs.
Like an exquisite sandcastle formed in a harsh desert landscape, Mali is blessed by an extraordinary amount of beauty, wonders, talents and knowledge. However, tourism numbers have plummeted in Mali due to security reasons.
The nation, which has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Timbuktu has seen ongoing conflicts cause tourism to dwindle due to the ongoing risks of attacks against foreign nationals.
Since 2012, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for instance, has recommended against all but essential travel to several areas of the country, and a complete ban on travel to others. While this does not mean that travellers from the UK cannot travel there, they would have to do so independently and without insurance.
The other three UNESCO World Heritage Sites include, Bandiagara Escarpment, Djenné and the Tomb of Askia.
Art & Culture
Mali has long functioned as a crossroads between northern and western Africa and has thus developed a rich cultural tradition. In addition, its location between the Arab nations to the north and the sub-Saharan African nations to the south has for centuries made it a cultural meeting place.
The most common cultural activities involve music and dancing. Dogon dancers wear masks that are more than 10 feet (3 metres) tall to act out their conception of the world’s progress, and Bambara animal-spirit masquerades do a fertility dance in which they imitate the movements of animals.
Traditional music from women of the southern area known as Wassoulou is very popular. Several Malian musicians are internationally known including Oumou Sangaré, Sali Sidibi, Ali Farka Touré, Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia (who perform together as Amadou and Mariam), and Salif Keita, a descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali empire. Their music combines elements of rock and roll with indigenous traditions.
The Tuareg group, Tinariwen attracted a large following in the West with a unique electric-guitar-driven sound that fans dubbed “desert blues.”
The Bambara and other groups excel in the creation of wood carvings of masks, statues, stools, and objects used in traditional religions. The Tyiwara, or gazelle mask, of the Bambara is remarkable for its fineness of line and distinct style.
Localized handicrafts include jewellery making by the Malinke people and leatherworking around the Niger Bend. Carved statues and cotton cloth woven with geometric designs are produced for the tourist trade in urban areas.
Though Mali's literature is less famous than its music, Mali has always been one of Africa's liveliest intellectual centres. Mali's literary tradition is passed mainly by word of mouth, with Jalis reciting or singing histories and stories known by heart. Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Mali's best-known historian, spent much of his life writing these oral traditions down for the world to remember.
The best-known novel by a Malian writer is Yambo Ouologuem's Le devoir de violence, which won the 1968 Prix Renaudot but its legacy was marred by accusations of plagiarism. Other well-known Malian writers include Baba Traoré, Modibo Sounkalo Keita, Massa Makan Diabaté, Moussa Konaté, and Fily Dabo Sissoko.
There are three main religions dominated by Sunni Islam. Sunni Islam is practiced by more than nine-tenths of the population, traditional religions by most of the rest, and Christianity (primarily Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) by a small number.
The constitution establishes a secular state and provides for freedom of religion, and the government largely respects this right
The most popular sport in Mali is football, which became more prominent after Mali hosted the 2002 African Cup of Nations. Most towns and cities have regular games with the most popular teams nationally being Djoliba AC, Stade Malien, and Real Bamako, all based in the capital.
Basketball is another major sport and the Mali women's national basketball team, led by Hamchetou Maiga, competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Traditional wrestling (la lutte) is also somewhat common with great wrestlers spoken of as cultural icons. Even today, traditional wrestlers are held in high esteem and matches are festive occasions that are accompanied by drumming, music, dancing, praise-singing, and the wearing of costumes.
Mali has a conscripted army, which requires two years of service, including the possibility of non-military service. Mali’s military forces include army and air force contingents and a limited navy contingent as well. Paramilitary forces include the national police force, the republican guard, the militia, and gendarmerie units.
Foreign troops including French troops and those under the banner of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and a UN peacekeeping operation, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) were present in Mali since 2013 to thwart the actions of Islamist fighters and maintain security while the country recovered from the 2012 coup and prepared for fresh elections.
Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.
Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The earliest human inhabitants in Uganda were hunter-gathers. Remnants of these people are today to be found among the pygmies in western Uganda. Approximately 2000 to 1500 years ago, Bantu speaking populations from central and western Africa migrated and occupied most of the southern parts of the country. The migrants brought with them agriculture, ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organization, that by the 15th - 16th century resulted in the development of centralized kingdoms, including the kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro-Kitara and Ankole.
Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the UK, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from the UK on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by violent conflicts, including an eight-year-long far-right military dictatorship led by Idi Amin. Additionally, a lengthy civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army in the Northern Region led by Joseph Kony caused hundreds of thousands of casualties.
The official languages are English and Swahili, although "any other language may be used as a medium of instruction in schools or other educational institutions or for legislative, administrative or judicial purposes as may be prescribed by law. Luganda, a central language, is widely spoken across the country, and several other languages are also spoken, including Lango, Acholi, Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, Luo, and Lusoga.
The current president of Uganda is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war.
Following constitutional amendments that removed term limits for the president, he was able to stand and was elected president of Uganda in the 2011 and in the 2016 general elections
The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of Uganda, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Parliament and, also appoints the Cabinet. The Vice President is also part of the Executive Branch, ready to assume the Presidency should the need arise.
The Parliament of Uganda derives its mandate and functions from the 1995 Constitution, the Laws of Uganda and its own Rules of Procedure. The Constitution contains articles which provide for the establishment, composition and functions of the Parliament of Uganda and empowers Parliament "to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda", and "to protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in Uganda".
under article 78(1) of the 1995 Constitution prescribes the composition of Parliament as follows:
Parliament shall consist of: Members directly elected to represent constituencies; One woman representative for every district; Such numbers of representatives of the army, youth, workers, persons with disabilities and other groups as Parliament may determine; and The Vice-President and Ministers who, if not already elected Members of Parliament, shall be ex-officio members without the right to vote on any issue requiring a vote in Parliament. Parliament is presided over by the Speaker, and in his/her absence, by the Deputy Speaker both of whom are elected by Members of Parliament from their number.
The Judiciary is the third arm of Government, under the doctrine of separation of powers. The Lord Chief Justice deputized by a Lord Deputy Chief Justice heads the Judiciary. The superior courts of Uganda are the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Constitution Court sits whenever necessary.
The Judiciary is formed by the various courts of judicature, which are independent of the other arms of government. They include the magisterial courts, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The Uganda Judiciary has undergone tremendous changes since the turn of the last century to the present time. In that regard, following the enactment of the 1995 Constitution, the Judiciary structure has been redefined to consist of the following courts: Supreme Court, Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court, High Court, Chief Magistrates Courts, Grade I Magistrate’s Courts, Grade II Magistrate’s Courts, The Local Council Courts, Family and Children Courts and Land.
UGANDA ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
Macroeconomic performance and outlook
The Ugandan economy reported strong growth in 2019, estimated at 6.3%, largely driven by the expansion of services. Services growth averaged 7.6% in 2019, and industrial growth 6.2%, driven by construction and mining. Agriculture grew at just 3.8%. Retail, construction, and telecommunications were key economic drivers. Inflation is expected to remain below 5%, strengthening the domestic economy.
Government spending continues to increase, underpinned by public infrastructure and capital investments for the nascent oil and gas industry. Expenditures have increased faster than domestic revenues, widening the fiscal deficit in 2019. The deficit is largely financed through external borrowings, supplemented with domestic securities. Despite the rise in the deficit, Uganda is classified at low risk of debt distress. However, debt reached an estimated 43.6% of GDP in 2019, up from 25% in 2012, raising medium-term concerns. Lending remains within IMF limits, but risks have increased due to higher costs of debt servicing and infrastructure investments.
Exports– dependent on primary products, have not kept up with imports, widening the trade deficit to an estimated 9.4% of GDP in 2019 from 8.3% in 2018. The increasing current account deficit has been largely financed by foreign direct investment (2.6% of GDP) and externally financed projects. External reserves were at a comfortable 4.4 months of imports in 2019, while the exchange rate was stable, averaging 3,727 Ugandan shillings per dollar.
The poverty rate fell during the past two decades but rebounded in 2016/17, reaching 21.4%, meaning that 10 million people were living below the national poverty line. Inequality has changed a little. More than two-thirds of the working-age population is in agriculture. Four-fifths of workers are own account workers or contributing family workers, with one-fifth in paid employment or themselves employers. Youth unemployment is a challenge.
Retail, construction, and telecommunications drive the economy, with mining, transport, and hospitality expected to grow as oil and gas investments are made. Price stability will boost domestic business confidence while fiscal policy is likely to remain accommodating.
Urban development with rapid urbanization, rising population density, increasing market size and access, clustering of skills and technology, and proximity to financial institutions offers opportunities for business development, firm creation, and new jobs. Kampala was, until 2019, Uganda’s only urban agglomeration classified as a city. The reclassification of nine municipalities as regional cities can promote new opportunities. The new cities will be phased in over three years, expanding infrastructure such as paved roads, power distribution, water and sanitation services, and waste management.
Poor global growth, affected by the US–China trade tensions and stagnant growth and subdued demand in Europe risks reducing Ugandan exports. Domestically, adverse weather can lower agriculture production, harming the trade balance and current account balance, given the importance to Uganda of exporting food to the East Africa region. Other domestic risks include weak revenue mobilization, weak private sector credit growth, and fiscal expansion in the run-up to the upcoming elections.
Uganda’s economic performance is influenced by developments in the global economic environment. A slowdown in the global economy as a result of Coronavirus will have a negative impact on Uganda’s economy.
Uganda is transitioning to a service economy but faces low productivity and low job creation. The economy has become more productive, but productivity differences across industry, services, and agriculture are large. Industrial productivity is seven to eight times higher than in the other two sectors, but it cannot absorb the 600,000 youths entering the jobs market each year.
Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing 70% of the population, and contributing half of Uganda’s export earnings and a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The agricultural sector is composed of both the monetary and non-monetary subsectors. Its share in GDP has declined from 64.1 percent in 1985 to 41.0 percent in 2001. The non-monetary subsector of agriculture has been the most affected declining from 39.9 percent of total GDP in 1985 to 22.7 percent in 2000. Nonetheless, the agricultural sector remains the backbone of Uganda’s economy as its main source of livelihood and employment for over 60 percent of the population. It contributes over 70 percent of Uganda’s export earnings and provides the bulk of the raw materials for most of the industries that are predominantly agro-based.
Agricultural output primarily comes from about 3 million smallholder subsistence farmers, who own an average farmland area of 2.5 ha. The agricultural sector is dominated by the production of food crops, but cash crops, livestock, fishery and forestry are also important. Food crops accounted for 72.4 percent of agricultural GDP in 1985, falling to 65.3 percent in 2000.
The main food crop is bananas, which accounted for 28 percent of the total cropped area in 2000, followed by cereals, root crops, pulses and oilseeds with 25 percent, 17 percent, 14 percent and 8 percent of the area, respectively. Despite the dominance of food crop production, only one-third is marketed. Cash crops, livestock, fish and forestry accounted for 4.5 percent, 16.5 percent, 4.0 percent and 2.6 percent of agricultural output in 1985, and 8.9 percent, 6.9 percent, 4.6 percent and 4.3 percent in 2000, respectively. Although Uganda is able to meet its domestic food needs, food products like wheat and rice are imported to cater for the urban population.
Uganda’s exports are dominated by traditional cash crops such as coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco, with coffee being the principal export crop. However, the share of traditional cash crops in total exports has declined from 96.0 percent in 1985 to 38.3 percent in 2001. This fall is mainly attributed to the collapse of world coffee prices and failure to add value to the cash crops as well as the high dependence on a few export commodities. The contribution to export earnings of non-traditional export products that include fish, maize, hides and skins have increased because of trade liberalization and an aggressive export promotion campaign by government.
The Ugandan economy has experienced sustained growth since the 1990s. Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average of 6.5% annually during 1990–2018, whereas real GDP per capita grew more slowly, at 3.1% per annum, during the same period.
During this period of sustained growth, Uganda experienced some degree of economic transformation. The share of agriculture value added in GDP declined from 53% in 1990 to 24% in 2018. The contribution of industry (including manufacturing, construction and mining) to GDP grew from 10% to 20%, and the contribution of the services sector from 30% to 48%.
The economy still relies on agriculture and the services sector.
The industrial sector is dominated by small-scale firms providing limited value addition. Industrialisation, and especially the manufacturing sector, remains crucial for Uganda. The country has the second-highest (although declining) dependency ratio in the world. Uganda also has one of the world’s highest fertility rates (number of children per woman) and population growth rates, at above 3%. The National Planning Authority (NPA) projects that, if current trends continue, the gap between the working-age population and the employed population will increase from 5 to 22 million people
Food and Beverage
Food and drink is a key sector in Uganda’s economy with agriculture accounting for 21% of the GDP, responsible for about 46% of total export earnings and employing over 65% of the population.
The Ugandan food and drink sector consists of the food sub-sector covering food crops and processed food products and the drink sub-sector covering coffee, tea, cocoa as well as manufactured alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Uganda has the potential to become the bread basket for the Eastern and Central African region given its good climate and abundant arable land. With increasing regional demand, an ever-increasing export market is threatening domestic food prices and reserves. Large scale commercial farming to boost production, irrigation to counter climate change factors and warehousing for long term storage are being promoted to boost the sector.
Processed Food Products
Uganda’s main industries are agro-based. The main processed foods include meat (154MT), fish (41MT), Edible oils and fats (262MT), dairy production (327MT), grain milling (359MT), bakery production (359MT), sugar processing (170MT), animal feed (110MT) and fruit processing. Both government and private sector efforts in processed foods have been directed towards value addition and quality improvement.
Coffee, Cocoa and Tea
Coffee is Uganda’s main export. Year-on-year cumulative coffee exports for the (April 01, 2011 to March 31, 2012) totalled 3.16 m bags worth $474 million comprising of Robusta (2.41 million bags) and Arabica ( 0.75 million bags). Uganda is Africa’s third-biggest tea producer after Kenya and Malawi with tea production increasing by 9.1% in 2011 to 60million kilograms. Whilst cocoa has not been a major crop in Uganda, the government is actively supporting the growth of cocoa with current yields currently at over 10,000 tonnes annually and earning $25million.
These include carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices and bottled water. The biggest soft drink producers are franchises of big international companies’ coca-cola and Pepsi cola. By 2010, the fruit juice industry in Uganda had grown 300% since 2005. With the influx of supermarkets in Uganda, bottled drinks are becoming increasingly popular with positive forecasts.
These comprise beer producing companies and spirits producing companies. Uganda is one of the five biggest beer consumers in Africa with per capita consumption of 8 litres per individual per annum
Today, forest and woodland-cover in Uganda stands at 49,000 km² or 24% of the total land area. Of these 9,242.08 km² is tropical rainforest, 350.60 km² are forest plantations and 39,741.02 km² is woodland. 30% of these areas are protected as national parks, wildlife reserves or central forest reserves. Economic crises often hamper efforts to conserve natural resources.
To revive forestry, the government abolished the Forest Department and established the National Forestry Authority (Uganda)(NFA) in 2004. This action aimed to increase revenue and quality of forest management
As of April 2019, generation capacity was 1,167 megawatts, with peak demand of about 625 megawatts and approximately 25 percent national electrification rate. At that time, an estimated 1,000 new customers were requesting grid power connection on a daily basis, with over 1.3 million existing Umeme connections. As of October 2019, the Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development estimated that 28 percent of Uganda's population had access to electricity. In September 2019, Uganda signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia to build capacity to exploit nuclear technology for energy, medical and other peaceful purposes
Uganda occupies a strategic position in East Africa, which gives it the advantage for the eventual development of exports of mineral products of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania and the COMESA region as a whole.
Mineral resources have been identified and are already being informally mined in the different parts of the country areas; there are several mineral potential formations most especially gold in the Karamoja region and other areas, copper in Kasese, extensive marble formations in Eastern part of the country (Moroto), phosphates in Tororo and huge deposits of iron ore in central Uganda. New iron smelting factories are being set up and the government’s negotiation for iron ore mining is underway.
Uganda’s financial system is composed of formal, semiformal, and informal institutions. The formal institutions include Banks, Microfinance Deposit-taking institutions, Credit Institutions, Insurance companies, Development Banks, Pension Funds, and Capital Markets. The semi-formal institutions include Savings and Credit Cooperative Associations (SACCO) and other Microfinance institutions, whereas the informal ones are mostly village savings and loans associations. Formal institutions are less prominent in rural areas than urban areas and they only serve 14% of the rural population. Informal institutions play an important role in the rural service provisions and serve approximately 12% of the rural population.
Tourism in Uganda is focused on Uganda's landscape and wildlife. It is a major driver of employment, investment, and foreign exchange, contributing 4.9 trillion Ugandan shillings (US$1.88 billion or €1.4 billion as of August 2013) to Uganda's GDP in the financial year 2012-13.
Presently, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, and the Uganda Tourism Board maintain information along with statistics about tourism for the country. There has been increased investment in tourism, particularly in travel accommodation and related facilities; this has enhanced tourists' experience in the country.
Uganda has a very diverse culture, landscape, flora, and fauna.
Game and bird viewing
Game viewing is the most popular tourist activity in Uganda. Wild animals like lions, buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes, elephants are common in Uganda’s ten national parks. Uganda is one of only ten countries where it is possible to visit endangered gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are Uganda's prime tourist attraction. The vast majority of these are in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, with a few others in Mgahinga National Park, both in southwestern Uganda.
Boating and Water Sports
With its prime location in the African Great Lakes region, Uganda has a variety of water bodies that are popular spots for tourism. White water rafting and kayaking are popular activities on the rapids near the source of the Nile at Jinja.
Boating which is commonly done on Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo, Lake Bunyonyi, Kazinga Channel, and River Nile is a perfect way of exploring the buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles and a wide variety of bird species that inhabit the banks of these water bodies. Sport fishing is another favorite tourist activity. Fish like the Nile perch, and tilapia can be caught in designated areas of Lake Mburo and the banks of the Nile. Canoeing can also be done at Lake Bunyonyi.
Hiking and Mountain Climbing
Uganda has many opportunities for mountain climbing, hiking and nature walks. The Rwenzori Mountains, which are found at the border with the DRC, include the snowcapped Margherita Peak (5109 m), the highest Mountain Range in Africa and also one of the highest peaks. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also includes three peaks, Mount Gahinga, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Muhavura, the highest peak in the national park. Mount Elgon, located in Eastern Uganda, can be used for hiking and climbing, and also has one of the largest calderas in the world.
Religious tourism is a steadily growing tourism product niche in Uganda after wildlife-based tourism. However, limited research has curtailed planning and development of religious tourism in the country.
The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking people, who dominate much of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes
In the north, the Lango and the Acholi peoples predominate, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language, whereas the Gishu are part of the Bantu and live mainly on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. They speak Lumasaba, which is closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. A few Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
Christians make up 85.2 percent of Uganda's population. There were sizeable numbers of Sikhs and Hindus in the country until Asians were expelled in 1972 by Idi Amin, following an alleged dream, although many are now returning following an invitation from President Yoweri Museveni. Muslims make up 12 percent of Uganda's population.
Football is the national sport in Uganda. The Uganda national football team, nicknamed "The Cranes" is controlled by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations. They have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals. Their best finish in the African Cup of Nations was second in 1978.
Malawi, also known as “The Warm Heart of Africa" because of the friendliness of its people, was once known as Nyasaland. This southeast African country is now officially known as the Republic of Malawi. The name Malawi originated from the Maravi; an old name of the Nyanja people that first inhabited the area. The people then settled by migrating to Bantu which was colonized by the British. In 1964, the protectorate over Nyasaland ended their operations and Nyasaland became an independent country under Queen Elizabeth II, with the new name Malawi. The country became a republic after two years of attaining its independence with a totalitarian one-party state under the leadership of Hastings, Banda who presided until 1994. The country now remains a democratic multi-party state under Peter Mutharika’s leadership.
As of July 2016, Malawi had an estimated population of 18,091,575 with Malawian as the official name for its citizens. There is a diverse population made up of native people, Asians, and Europeans, with several languages spoken and a variety of religious beliefs. The landlocked country is neighbored by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south, and west. The country spans over 118,484 km2 (45,747 sq mi) with Lake Malawi taking up about a third of the nation’s land. Lilongwe is the nation’s capital, and is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third-largest in Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. Malawi has a pro-western foreign policy and has positive diplomatic relations and participation in several international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Union (AU), yet Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries with low life expectancy, high infant mortality and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Malawi’s current constitution was effected on the 18th of May, 1995 with a democratic, multi-party government and currently has the leadership of Dr. Peter Mutharika as the President. Malawi’s government consists of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Malawi is divided into four regions (the Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern regions), which are further divided into 28 districts, and approximately 250 traditional authorities and 110 administrative wards. Local government is administered by the central government-appointed regional administrators and district commissioners.
The Executive branch
The Executive branch of Malawi is made up of a President who is both Head of State and Head of government, first and second vice presidents and a cabinet. The President, with his Vice is elected into office every five years while the second vice president and the cabinet are appointed by the president. In the case of the second vice, they must be from a different party and for the members of the cabinet, they can be drawn from within or outside the legislature.
Malawi’s National assembly is the supreme legislative body of the nation, although the Malawian constitution provides for a Senate of 80 seats, Parliament repealed it and one does not exist in practice. The legislative branch consists of a Unicameral National Assembly of 193 members who are elected every five years. The National Assembly situated in Lilongwe possesses legislative supremacy and thereby, ultimate power over all other political bodies in Malawi with the Speaker of the House as the head.
Malawi’s judicial branch interprets and applies the laws of the land to ensure equal justice under law, and to provide a mechanism for dispute resolution. The judicial branch is modelled after the English model and with the Supreme Court of Appeal as the highest; The Supreme Court of Appeal has jurisdiction only in appeals from lower courts. It is composed of the Chief Justice and nine other Justices, followed by the High Court which is divided into three sections (general, constitutional and commercial): The High Court of Malawi has unlimited original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings. It has a General Division which also hears appeals from subordinate courts, and a Commercial Division that deals with commercial or business-related cases. About one-third of Most High Court cases are brought before a single judge, without a jury, but cases on constitutional matters must be heard by three judges. The Industrial Relations Court has jurisdiction over employment issues. The Subordinate Courts include an Industrial Relations Court and Magistrates Courts. The Industrial Relations Court presides over employment cases before it is heard informally, and with some restrictions on legal representation, by a panel consisting of a chairperson and one representative each of employers and employees. While others include magistrates' courts and local or traditional courts. These have defined criminal and civil jurisdiction depending on their level, but expressly excluding cases of treason, murder or manslaughter.
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, the country qualified for debt relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative – Malawi has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the Commonwealth.
These reforms led to a gradual recovery, with better agricultural performance, higher commodity prices (notably for tea) and increased export earnings. However, during 2000, with a poor maize harvest, weaker tobacco prices and the growing burden on the economy of the loss of skilled workers and health care costs of HIV/AIDS, growth slowed and then in 2001 the economy shrank by more than four per cent. It recovered in 2002 in a climate of persisting drought and generally maintained good rates of growth, becoming strong during 2006–09. Then, following the world economic downturn of 2008–09, there was a brief pause, before growth of at least five per cent p.a. resumed in 2013–15. Keeping inflation under control, however, proved more challenging; it was 27.3 per cent in 2013 and an estimated 19.6 per cent in 2014.
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. Recent increases in domestic borrowing mean that debt servicing in 2016 exceeded the levels prior to HIPC debt relief. 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.
Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy, directly accounting for about one-third of the nation’s GDP. Agriculture significantly contributes to employment, economic growth, export earnings, poverty reduction, food security, and nutrition. This sector competes most successfully in international markets. The main economic produces of Malawi are tobacco, tea, cotton, groundnuts, sugar, and coffee. While maize has been the major food crop in terms of the policy agenda and hectarage planted, tobacco has been the dominant cash crop in the economy accounting for approximately 58% of the country’s total export earnings with a production in 2011 of 175,000 tonnes over the last century. Tea and sugar are other important cash crops accounting for 8 percent and 7 percent of export earnings, respectively. Dried legumes, nuts and groundnuts have increased in relative importance while cotton has decreased. Livestock production, which contributes about one-fifth of the value of total agricultural production, consists mainly of subsistence grazing of sheep, cattle, goats, poultry, and pigs. Other agricultural products include cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, bananas, rice, and Irish potatoes. Malawi’s agriculture sector is composed of two main sub sectors: small-scale farmers and estates. Despite lacking resources, smallholder farmers produce about 80 percent of Malawi’s food and 20 percent of its agricultural exports. The estate subsector is the nation’s principal foreign exchange earner. While it contributes only about 20 percent to the total national agricultural production, it provides over 80 percent of agricultural exports mainly from tobacco, sugar, tea and, to a lesser extent, tung oil, coffee, and macadamia. The estate sub sector operates on leasehold or freehold land. Lake Malawi and Lake Chilwa provide fish for the region.
Malawi's manufacturing sector contributed 10.7% of GDP in 2013. The main industries are food processing, construction, consumer goods, cement, fertilizer, ginning, furniture production, and cigarette production. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism’s spokesperson, Mayeso Msokera has largely attributed the slow industrial growth to insufficient and intermittent power supply the country has experienced in recent years.
Food and beverages: Most fruits and vegetables are exported raw, while processed food is imported mainly from South Africa. Companies like Carlsberg and Universal Industries are into brewery and sweets, crisps, biscuits, milk powder, soy products, and baby food respectively. Coffee and tea are processed by half a dozen different companies in the regions of Thyolo, Mulanje and around Mzuzu.
Pharmaceutical companies: Pharmanova Ltd., which is the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturer in Malawi, followed by SADM, Malawi Pharmacies (Pharmaceuticals Limited) and Kentam Product Limited are the four pharmaceutical companies in Malawi. They manufacture a limited range of drugs, particularly those that are in great demand on the local market.
Forestry: Timber production for building materials and furniture is an important industry. However, most areas in Malawi suffer from deforestation due to illegal logging for charcoal production and the use of firewood
Electricity: Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) is Malawi's sole power supplier and is state-owned. It generates almost all its power from hydroelectric plants along the Shire River. The installed is approximately 351MW. About 12% of the country's population has access to electricity, according to 2014 World Bank figures.
The mining sector in Malawi accounts for about 1% of the country’s GDP. In 2017, growth in the mining and quarrying sector was estimated at 1.6%. Growth in 2018 was projected at 2.3%. Mining remains small-scale, and Malawi has no precious metals or oil, but ruby mining began in the mid-1990s, with Malawi the only source of rubies in Africa. The value of mining is dominated by the extraction of fuel minerals, particularly uranium. Malawi's production of uranium has contributed 1% to the global production of this mineral. Malawi has several minerals with economic potentials, such as Phosphates (apatite), Bauxite, Kaolinitic, Coal, Kyanite, Limestones, Rare Earths (including Strontianite and Monazite), Graphite, Sulphides (Pyrite and Pyrrhotite), Titanium minerals along the Lakeshore, and Vermiculite. Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) in Malawi is generally carried out through labor-intensive methods for limestone for lime production, clay for pottery, and gemstones. Small scale mining is facilitated by Mineral Permits, Mining Claim Licences, and Reserved Mineral Licences. It is estimated that with increased emphasis on mineral extraction, the sector's contribution to GDP could be 20% by 2023.
Major products in the manufacturing industry include: textiles, footwear and clothing, agro-processing (tobacco, tea, sugar, soya, macadamia nuts) and building materials (cement, joinery). In recent years the production of tobacco in Malawi has decreased significantly. Some major players in the manufacturing sector are Mapeto (DWSM) Ltd., the largest textile manufacturer in Malawi, Mapeto (DWSM) manufacture large quantities of yarn from the initial spinning process right through to printing and dying. They are one of the country’s largest importers and employ over 1000 workers. Malawi has over the past 30 years failed to make headway in the manufacturing sector, leaving analysts wondering whether the promotion of import substitution, industrialization and agricultural exports is yielding results. World Bank analysis suggests that the market for manufacturing is limited partly due to Malawi’s relatively small domestic market; while the shortage of skilled workers, low productivity and high transport costs in Malawi limit the capacity for the exportation of manufactured goods.
Malawi’s service sector accounts for 51.7% of the national GDP. Notable industries are tourism, retail, transport, education, health services, telecommunication, and the banking sector. The Government of Malawi holds shares in many important companies, such as Malawian Airlines and Press Corporation Limited.
Malawi's financial sector is small even by regional standards and is dominated by banks but with a variety of institutions and markets. The Malawian financial system consists of nine banks, two discount houses, one leasing company, eight insurance companies, four development finance institutions (DFIs), a young but growing microfinance industry, and a nascent capital market. Only 10% of Malawi's population has access to formal financial services, reflecting the high incidence of poverty, high degree of informality, and a high proportion of the population in rural areas. Malawi's financial system offers a variety of conventional financial services, concentrated on the short-term end of the yield curve, but with an increasing focus on down-market products. Significant ownership linkages within the financial system and with non-financial corporations pose challenges for governance and related party transactions.
Image: Reserve Bank of Malawi
Malawi has a small banking system, which has a low but increasing level of financial intermediation. The banking system is concentrated and largely privately owned. Generally, Malawi has a sound banking sector, overseen and regulated by the Reserve Bank of Malawi, The Central Bank of Malawi. There are ten full-service commercial banks. The two largest banks-- National Bank of Malawi Standard Bank, First Merchant Bank, and Indebank -- collectively command 51% of all banking deposits.
Malawi’s transportation is poorly developed. The country of almost 14 million has 39 airports, with only 6 with paved runways and 33 with unpaved runways. It has 495 miles (797 km) of railways, all narrow-gauge and about 45 percent of its roads are paved. Malawi also has 435 miles (700 km) of waterways on Lake Malawi and along the Shire River.
Highways: Recent assessment has indicated that there are 9,601 miles (15,451 km) of roads in the country; of these, 4,322 miles (6,956 km) (45 percent) are paved. The remaining 5,279 miles (8,496 km) are not paved.
Ports, harbors and waterways: The major waterways are Lake Nyasa or Lake Malawi and the Shire River. There is a railhead at the port of Chipoka, Salima district in Central Malawi. There is also the existence of smaller ports at Monkey Bay, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota and Chilumba.
The MV Ilala connects Likoma Island with the mainland, as well as the Malawian and Mozambican sides of the lake.
Air transport: The national airline of Malawi, Malawian Airlines Limited operates regional passenger service in Lilongwe and is 51% owned by the Malawi government as Ethiopian Airlines controls the remaining 49%. The airline's main base of operations is Lilongwe International Airport, with a secondary hub at Chileka International Airport
Image: Lilongwe International Airport
Rail transport: The government owned Malawi Railways is the national rail network in Malawi but since 1 December 1999 the Central East African Railways, a consortium led by Railroad Development Corporation, won the right to operate the network. This was the first rail privatization in Africa which did not involve a parastatal operator. The rail network totaled 797 kilometers in 2001. It is a narrow gauge line with a 1,067 mm (3ft. 6in) track.
The overall telephone system is described as rudimentary. In the past, Malawi's telecommunications system was named as one of the poorest in Africa, but conditions are improving. Telephones are much more accessible in urban areas, with less than a quarter of land lines being in rural areas.
Telephone: Mobile telephones are much more common than fixed line phones in Malawi, with over 6.1 million mobile subscriptions compared with only 45,678 fixed line subscriptions as of 2015.
The International Telecommunications Union report showed that the average Malawians spend on mobile phones was over 56% of the average monthly earning there. This was the highest proportion of earnings revealed by the survey. There are the domestic telecommunication systems consisting of fair system of open-wire lines, microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations and the international also made up of satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat, 1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean.
Radio and television: The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) regulates Radio and television broadcast services in Malawi.
There are 31 are operational radio broadcast stations, but 45 licensed. There are also 20 licensed television broadcast stations, of which only 5 or 7 are operational.
Internet: By late 2018, 1.8 million Malawians were online, around 9% of the population. There were 540,000 active social media users by January 2019 with Facebook as the leading platform. The internet in Malawi is also regulated by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA). Business to consumer Internet service providers include Airtel, and Malawi Postal Service.
Image: Kasungu National Park
Malawi is famously known for its most welcoming, warm and friendly people, hence the Warm Heart of Africa and it has considerable potential for tourism. Some main tourist sites are Lake Malawi: Lake Malawi spans from the Northern region of the country through the Southern region with its northern part being the deepest. Mountains such as Zomba Plateau and Mulanje Mountain, not forgetting the country's national parks like Nyika National Park, Kasungu National Park, and Liwonde National Park and Lake Malawi National Park. There also are the rock paintings at Chongoni. Aside these, there are many beautiful beaches along the shores of Lake Malawi like Kande Beach and Chintheche Inn in Nkhata Bay.
Chewa is the most widely spoken language in Malawi used by 60 percent of the population, which originated among the Bantu tribes of South Africa. 5 percent of the people speak Yao, and 30 percent speak Arabic with English as the official language of government, industry, commerce and in schools.
Chickens, goats, and an occasional pig are used to supplement the standard dish of boiled cornmeal called nsima. Nsima is eaten twice a day, usually at lunch and dinner, and is preferred by most people. Fruits that abounds in Malawi includes mangoes, melons, oranges, bananas, and pineapples. Vegetables are cultivated but are not popular.
Soft drinks are quite dominant, especially Coca-Cola. Alcoholic beverages are mainly beer, a homemade brew called chibuku, that is usually produced by women and served in cut-off milk cartons, and a more potent distilled liquor. Most Malawian ceremonies involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Verbal greetings are accompanied by a handshake. This is done with the right hand, with the left hand gripping the right forearm to show that one is not armed. Though residents are gregarious, they respect other people's privacy in a crowded country where private space is at a premium. While approaching someone's house one would often cry Odi, Odi to announce his or her presence. Eating usually is done without utensils, but only with the right hand, because the left hand is considered "dirty."
55 percent of the people belong to the Church of England but there are also Methodists, Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists. 20 percent of the population are Muslim, and 20 percent are Catholic. There is a small Hindu presence.
Death is a constant presence in Malawi because of the short life expectancy, the growing incidence of AIDS and other diseases, and the high infant mortality rate. Employers give workers time off for funerals, and funerals and mourning can last several days.
Malawi has a National Dance Troupe which is partially subsidized by the government and receives the only governmental financial support to the arts in the country.
Image: Gule Wamkulu -The Masked Malawi Traditional Dance
There is a long tradition of oral artistry. Before the spread of literacy in the twentieth century, texts were preserved in memory and performed or recited. Those traditional texts provided entertainment, instruction, and commemoration. However, no distinctions were made between works composed for enjoyment and works with a more utilitarian function. Those works were primarily myths, legends, and folktales.
Malawi’s most common sport is football. Its national team is yet to qualify for a World Cup but have made two appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations. Basketball is also growing in popularity, but its national team is yet to participate in any international competition.