Malawi Industry Sectors

April 9, 2010Malawiby EconomyWatch Content


Malawi’s industry sectors employ only 10% of the total working population. It contributes almost 20% of the country’s GDP and has a negligible share in the total export volume. The oil sector is the most developed industry sector in Malawi.

Malawi Industry Sectors: History

Malawi’s industry sectors are largely underdeveloped and agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Agriculture and allied activities account for more than half of the country’s annual production and approximately 90% of the total export volume. Tobacco is the major cash crop, which helps sustain economic growth.

Major Malawi Industry Sectors

Some of the major Malawi industry sectors are:


  • Oil sector: Malawi has no oil and natural gas reserves. Thus, the country has no upstream oil industry. The downstream oil sector is heavily dependent on the import of petroleum products from neighboring oil producing countries. Many foreign companies have operations in the downstream oil sector of the country. Approximately 74% of the total production is consumed for local energy needs and the remaining is exported to trade partners. The Ministry Of Natural Resources And Environmental Affairs regulates the oil sector of the country. One of the major concerns regarding the Malawi oil sector is illegal smuggling that occurs across the Tanzanian border. Despite several initiatives by the Malawian government, the revenue loss due to smuggling has not been controlled. 

  • Mining sector: This sector is not completely developed in Malawi but has huge scope for future expansion. As of 2008, the mining sector was largely focused on industrial minerals that are consumed locally. However, the country also has significant reserves of bauxite, phosphate, uranium and mineral sand. If the government supports the development of the mining sector, it can contribute largely to the country’s GDP growth rate. 

  • Textile industry: Malawi’s export list includes textile products as well. The industry receives inputs from the agricultural sector. The country exports finished apparels to neighboring African nations.


Since the 2000s, the Malawian government has been carrying out various initiatives to develop the major industrial sectors. This includes encouraging private and foreign investment by creating a favorable climate. 

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