Currencies by Country:

What is the Malawi Kwacha (MWK)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.


In 2010 the total GDP was $5,054,150,505 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $339. It grew by 7.10% over the previous year.


The latest unemployment rate for 2004 is 7.80%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 155.77.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is President Joyce Banda, who is also the head of state (in an executive role).

Currency Details

Since 1970, the kwacha, denoted by the ISO code MWK, has been the monetary unit of Malawi. The Malawian kwacha is further divided into 100 tambala. The kwacha was adopted by Zambian kwacha, which was used in Zambia since 1968. The name kwacha derives from the Bemba word for “dawn”, alluding to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a “new dawn of freedom.”

Sovereign Ratings for Malawi

Malawi is not rated.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

The Government of Malawi has been a multi-party democracy since 1994. The political system is divided into three separate branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branch. In the executive branch, the president serves as both chief of state and head of government and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The cabinet consists of 28 members named by the President. The legislative branch consists of the National Assembly with 193 members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The judicial branch of the Malawi government is made of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the High Court. The president appoints the chief justice and puisne judges are appointed on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government Head of Government President Bingu wa MUTHARIKA (since 24 May 2004) Cabinet 46-member Cabinet named by the president Elections president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 19 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014) Election Results Bingu wa MUTHARIKA elected president; percent of vote – Bingu wa MUTHARIKA 66%, John TEMBO 30.7%, other 3.3%

Key Economic Factors

Economic Overview:

Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries. Malawi’s economy is predominantly agricultural with nearly 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues. The economy is dependent on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The government has faced many strong challenges including the failure to develop a market economy, improving educational activities, facing up to environment problems, and dealing with the exponential increase in AIDS cases.


Tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement, and consumer goods.

Export Commodities:

Tobacco, tea, sugar, cotton, coffee, peanuts, and wood products.

Import Commodities:

Food, petroleum products, semi manufactures, consumer goods, and transportation equipment.

Major Trading Partners:

South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Africa, US, Germany, and Zambia.

Agriculture – products:

Tobacco, sugar cane, cotton, tea, maize, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses; cattle, and goats.

Have additions or corrections to this material? Let us know!