PARTNER ATLAS

MALAWI

as a partner for strengthening a values and rules-based world order

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Malawi have for Germany with regards to "strengthening a values and rules-based world order"?

Malawi has shown that it can serve as an example of a functioning democracy in Africa and a partner for Germany in defending a democratic, values-based world order. The country made history in 2020 when the May 2019 elections, which had been overshadowed by irregularities, were successfully disputed by the opposition. New, free and fair elections ordered by the court were held under Covid-19 conditions within 150 days. An alliance of opposition parties, the Tonse Alliance, won the elections with an absolute majority. Since then, new President Lazarus Chakwera has pursued the objective of suppressing widespread corruption and putting the country onto a successful economic footing.

At a multilateral level, Malawi advocates for regional, economic and political integration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). During its presidency, Malawi set an example by adopting a declaration linking regional peace, security, the observance and protection of democratic standards and human rights.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Malawi willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

In keeping with the course set by the new government, with its strong focus on international partnership, Malawi shows great openness to cooperation with partners such as Germany. Worthy of special mention is its clear commitment to democratic reforms, which continues almost two years after the change of government, particularly in the fundamental task of fighting corruption.

On account of the extensive undertaking represented by the domestic fight against corruption and dealing with urgent backlogs in social and economic development, expectations from cooperation with Germany will also include a major financial and development-related component. Even so, beyond an expectation of basic assistance, there is a clear interest in cooperation based on an appreciation of shared values and ideals with a view to bolstering the policies of the new government and the long-term credibility of the reform agenda.

STATUS QUO How close is Germany and Malawi's current cooperation in this area?

Germany and Malawi have maintained diplomatic relations since Malawi became independent in 1964. In 1998, the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, GIZ) opened an office in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, establishing the long-standing development cooperation arrangement between Germany and Malawi, which currently focuses on healthcare, education, and development of the private sector in rural areas. This is based on the fact that Malawi is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, and is ranked 174th out of 189 (as at 2019) on the United Nations Human Development Index. The last diplomatic visit from Germany took place in 2019, by the then Development Minister Gerd Müller. That shows that Malawi is of only minimal significance in Germany’s foreign policy. Official cooperation has been limited thus far to traditional development cooperation.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Malawi in this area?

A particular prerequisite for successful partnerships in terms of implementing and promoting a rule-based and values-based world order is a serious commitment to these values on both sides. Accordingly, Malawi is currently a quite rare example of a credible partner on the African continent. This therefore opens up the possibility for Germany to send a clear signal in this area, before values-based partnerships become rapidly overshadowed by harder economic or security-policy interests. 

Consolidating positive developments in Malawi also offers the potential to extend them into the immediate region and, in the context of SADC and in the special relationship that Malawi historically has with countries such as Zimbabwe, of stabilising a local player in the defence of democracy and human rights. A strong voice on the part of Malawi within the SADC on current and future questions of internal conflicts and peaceful solutions, and on questions of ensuring human rights and the principles of the rule of law, constitutes a major potential win in this context for global advocacy of a rule-based and values-based world order.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

Malawi currently plays only a very minor role in Germany’s foreign policy, and the changes in the country since the change of government in 2019 have hardly been commented on to date. While this may be interpreted as caution, given the often quick and sobering retreats from initial democratic advances on the African continent, there is still a risk in ignoring the developing change of heart in the country in the medium term and waiting for the policy to become established. After all, a clear position on the positive democratic development in the country and associated offers of a more in-depth partnership can constitute important contributions toward successfully implementing and consolidating the current policy direction.

More in-depth cooperation and a new commitment by Germany to its relations with Malawi would be valuable steps both for the country’s domestic development and establishing its position as a beacon of democracy in the region, and also as an external sign of the sincerity of Germany’s appreciation of values-based partnerships.

Specifically, there needs to be an affirmation of the deeper partnership with Malawi at several levels. The relationship with Malawi could be given greater prominence in communicating German policy, particularly in an African context, in highlighting the basic democratic thinking shared by the two countries. In addition, such an acknowledgement must be accompanied by clear actions in the form of investment in projects, particularly to support the government’s reforming, anti-corruption policy, and also in programmes to deal with critical issues of education and healthcare in Malawian policy. Moreover, projects with impact that are focused on interaction – especially in terms of new political talents and institutional partnerships – between Malawi and Germany would be effective tools to anchor the value of the partnership in the consciousness of Germany’s population and bolster the public effectiveness of the relationship.

All in all, there is a need for clear communication and close observation of the extent to which partnerships and projects contribute to further democratic progress, in order to identify any potential setbacks at an early stage and adopt the appropriate policy positions.

Anna Hoffmann-Kwanga heads the KAS Office in Zimbabwe.

MALAWI

  • Population: 20.150.838
  • Capital: Lilongwe
  • Interest: Strengthening a Values and Rules-based World Order
  • Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

02 — Foreign Office

Contakt:

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.
Auslandsbüro Südafrika
Besucheradresse:
36 Long Street, 6. Stockwerk, Cape Town City Centre
8001 Kapstadt
Republik Südafrika

03 — The region

Sub-Saharan Africa

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CÔTE D IVOIRE

Côte d‘Ivoire is an anchor of political and economic stability in West Africa. Whereas there were three military coups in the neighbouring countries of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in an eight-month period beginning in May 2021, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained calm. The commodity-rich hub on the Gulf of Guinea has recorded consistently strong economic growth since 2012, regularly exceeding 6 percent, well above the population growth rate, which is also high at about 2.5 percent per annum. Its population grew from 16.5 million in 2000, to 26 million 20 years later.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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DR CONGO

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has various resources that play, or will play, a major part in limiting global warming, in addition to helping with the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s second largest area of rainforest – about 100 million hectares – is located in DR Congo. Tropical ecosystems such as the Congolese rainforest are capable of storing CO2, and thus play an important part in global climate protection and in limiting global warming. At a micro level, forest areas can also reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heat or intense rain.

  • Population: 95.403.294
  • Capital: Kinshasa
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MALAWI

Malawi has shown that it can serve as an example of a functioning democracy in Africa and a partner for Germany in defending a democratic, values-based world order. The country made history in 2020 when the May 2019 elections, which had been overshadowed by irregularities, were successfully disputed by the opposition. New, free and fair elections ordered by the court were held under Covid-19 conditions within 150 days. An alliance of opposition parties, the Tonse Alliance, won the elections with an absolute majority. Since then, new President Lazarus Chakwera has pursued the objective of suppressing widespread corruption and putting the country onto a successful economic footing.

  • Population: 20.150.838
  • Capital: Lilongwe
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CÔTE D IVOIRE

As part of its security policy commitment in West Africa, German foreign policy has focused for many years on Mali and its neighbouring countries, also known as the Sahel Region, whose stability is directly relevant to peace and security in this country on account of its close proximity to Europe. Nevertheless, we need to broaden our geographical horizons, since Jihadism, ethnic conflicts and organised crime are becoming more widespread throughout West Africa. This poses a threat to political and economic stability among the southern neighbours of the Sahel countries in particular, such as Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire is an important partner for Germany in the area of trade and development policy cooperation in West Africa. One area where this finds expression is in the Reform Partnership which Germany has maintained with the country since 2017.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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SOUTH AFRICA

The world needs Africa in order to stop climate change, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised during the EU-Africa summit in early 2022. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the enormous dependence on coal. The role that the various players in South African politics who could veto these efforts will play is hard to assess, however.

 

  • Population: 59,308,690
  • Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
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KENYA

Kenya is one of the most stable countries in East Africa and has an internationally oriented economy. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the Covid crisis and a GDP of more than 100 billion US dollars (2020), Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa and is a growth engine for the region. Thanks to the ports of Mombasa and Lamu as well as the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important regional hub for trade,finance and the transport of humanitarian aid in the region. Many international companies and organisations have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.

  • Population: 53,771,296
  • Capital: Nairobi
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GHANA

Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
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NIGERIA

With a population of around 216 million, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which have worsened as a result of the Covid pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to stopping irregular migration from Africa.

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja
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NIGER

The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the highest rates of population growth (on an average, women have 7 children) and is wrestling with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There were several demonstrations against the rampant corruption and bad governance in the past. However, in the 2020/21 elections, Niger for the first time successfully managed the transfer of power from one elected President to another, Mohamed Bazoum. In the past, the country had suffered numerous military coups.

  • Population: 24,206,644
  • Capital: Niamey
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