LILONGWE, December 11, 2018 — Educating girls, ending child marriages, and taking advantage of the current macro-economic stability to build resilience could positively impact Malawi’s development outcomes in the medium term, says the World Bank in its latest Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM) report released today.
Titled Investing in Girls’ Education, the eighth edition of the MEM shows that despite a declining trend, almost four in every ten girls still marry before the age of 18, and three in ten have their first child before the age of 18. Educating girls and ending child marriage in Malawi could generate large economic benefits and bring about half a billion dollars (in purchasing power parity) per year by 2030, thanks to lower population growth. In addition, if women who had married as girls had been able to delay their marriage, their annual earnings today could have been higher by an estimated $167 million.
“The cost of child marriages and lack of education for girls is a major lost opportunity for their children, society, and the economy,” said Greg Toulmin, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi. The MEM therefore suggests interventions that would enable girls to remain in school, such as improving schooling conditions for girls, and eliminating child marriage and early child bearing.
In monitoring the economy, the MEM says that over the next two years the country’s growth rate is projected to gradually increase to 4-5% driven by a rebound in the agriculture sector. However, Malawi’s continued vulnerability to weather shocks could dampen growth, hence the MEM encourages the government to take advantage of the current macro-economic stability to build resilience. Investment in risk mitigation and disaster risk financing complemented by agricultural and economic diversification and incorporating management of natural disaster risks in the budget process, could help build resilience.
The MEM also encourages the government to avoid pre-election pressures for non-budgeted expenditures which could be detrimental to fiscal sustainability and consequently macroeconomic stability. The report recommends the government maintains fiscal deficits at sustainable levels, to reduce domestic borrowing since domestic debt levels are already high. Tighter control of domestic borrowing would reduce future interest payments and increase the fiscal space for growth enhancing development expenditures, the MEM says, while also supporting lower interest rates and higher lending to the private sector.
The MEM primarily provides an analysis of economic and structural development issues in the country. This eighth edition was led by co-authors Priscilla Kandoole, Malawi’s Country Economist and Quentin Wodon, a Lead Economist with the Bank. Previous MEM editions published since 2015 are: Realizing Safety Nets’ Potential. Land for Inclusive Development, Harnessing the Urban Economy, Emerging Stronger, Absorbing Shocks, Building Resilience., Adjusting in Turbulent Times, and Managing Fiscal Pressures.