|Overview : |
Malawi’s economy is dominated by agriculture, which accounts for over 30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This over-reliance on agriculture has been a leading cause of high volatility in Malawi’s GDP growth, as poor harvests coupled with regular droughts have significantly impacted on agricultural output. The manufacturing sector is relatively small and contributes just over 10% of Malawi`s GDP. Furthermore, it is concentrated around the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and to a lesser extent, Mzuzu, leaving most of the country with very limited or no industrial development. The manufacturing sector is critical for an economy’s growth potential and balance of payments. The lack of a thriving manufacturing sector and over-reliance on primary agriculture increases the need to import value-added goods, whether for consumption or as industrial inputs, and decreases the potential to develop a sustained comparative advantage of the local industry for exporting such goods.
While Malawi has made some important strides in its economic development agenda, it has suffered economic set-backs that are characteristic of a country with a weak productive base. The intermittent weakening of the local currency and a huge trade imbalance speak of an economy that has an enormous appetite for imported goods and services, even those which are efficiently produced locally. Malawians generally prefer imported over locally produced products and consider goods made in Malawi as second-class products. The consequences of ignoring consumption of and patronizing locally produced goods and services have been well documented. The net effects are lost jobs, unstable exchange rate, stagnating industrial development, high inflation and worsening trade balances just to mention a few. This trajectory is undesirable and unsustainable for the country hence the need for a change to support home grown industries.
It is against this background that the Malawi Government resuscitated the strategy to promote consumption of locally-made goods and services. To that effect, the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, developed the Buy Malawi Strategy (BMS) in 2015 which was officially launched on 18th March 2016 by the Head of State, emphasizing its significance to Malawi. This strategy builds on gains made in the previous Buy Malawi Campaign (BMC) and comes at a time when there is stiff competition from imported goods and services, a situation that demands re-defining Malawi’s economic growth patterns.
The essence of the Buy Malawi Strategy is to encourage consumption of locally produced goods and services through deliberate interventions, and to change the mindset and negative perceptions towards goods produced in Malawi. Such behavioral change has the potential to substantially enhance competitiveness of local firms, stimulate local production, job and wealth creation and promote industrialization, a key priority of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MGDS III). This is also in tandem with commitments of world leaders to promote an equitable global economic system in which no country or person should be left behind as in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, also developed a Marketing and Communication Plan to promote the Buy Malawi Strategy; encourage the purchase and consumption of Malawian products; and to instill excitement and national pride when it comes to the use of goods and services ‘Made in Malawi’.
Key priorities in the BMS Marketing & Communication Plan include; development of an attractive, informative, customer friendly and well targeted BMS website, BMS logo designs, BMS brochures, BMS garments and advertising point of sale display.
The website is one of the main tools for the BMS Secretariat to reach its target audiences, to enhance participation in the Buy Malawi Strategy and to influence Malawian consumers to preferably buy locally made products. The key target audience for the BMS marketing and communication messages are government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as the general public. However, despite the fact that local products and services are quite well known and available on the market and the public is embracing them, the MDA’s uptake of local products and services is lukewarm. Hence the need to look into regulatory provisions that could enhance deliberate attention on local goods and services by MDAs.
Hence, the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, is seeking a local consultant to provide professional legal services to review procurement related laws with the aim of proposing legal provisions that could enhance and enforce implementation, mainstreaming and institutionalisation of the Buy Malawi Strategy (BMS).