About the Project
The National Planning Commission (NPC), with technical support from the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), and the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) are undertaking cost-benefit analysis across a wide range of policy areas with the aim of assisting the Government of Malawi in its prioritization of spending across sectors.
Summarized evidence and recommendations
Entitled “Malawi Priorities: A Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) for Policy Prioritisation”, the project’s research outputs have been pooled into an edited book that summarises the individual research pieces into select chapters – acknowledging all contributing technical experts respectively. This easy to read book was launched in November 2022 at an event in Lilongwe.
The Top Priorities for Malawi
In total, the research produced through the Malawi Priorities has established a strong foundation of policy evidence across 22 streams of research, which is being consistently used to inform the NPC’s advice on numerous government initiatives. Growing the reach of this impact, the NPC has undertaken dissemination activities which increase the audience of the research and promote its usage in Malawi’s broader policy discourse.
In Malawi, 6 out of 7 girls are not enrolled in secondary school, while 3 out of 7 girls are married before the age of 18. Common factors drive these two startling statistics: insufficient number of secondary schools, limited labor market opportunities for girls, and cultural norms and practices that normalize early marriage.
Improving the quality of primary school education in Malawi
In spite of 88% enrollment rates in primary schools (pre-pandemic), learning outcomes are poor with the low passing rates for fundamental (English and Mathematics) subjects.
Land reform is an excellent return on investment with the potential for substantial wealth creation in Malawi
Long term technical assistance for the electricity utility
Blackouts, shortages, and unreliable access to electricity are a challenge for Malawi’s businesses. Malawian firms experience approximately 7.4 outages per month, with each outage lasting 3.6 hours.
Projections show Malawi’s population doubling again from 2020 to about 2050. The high population growth rate will make it harder for Malawi to meet the basic needs of its population.
The Malawi Priorities Project is a research-based collaborative project implemented by Malawi’s National Planning Commission, the African Institute for Development Policy, and the Copenhagen Consensus Center. The project seeks to provide the government of Malawi with a systematic process to help prioritize the most effective policy solutions to maximize social, environmental, and economic benefits on every kwacha invested. Cost-benefit analysis is the primary analytical tool adopted by the project. Click on the image below to get a one-page overview of all analyzed solutions across different sectors, and their associated cost-effectiveness. A long line means high social and economic return per kwacha spent, the shortest lines means that the short and long-term benefits from the interventions barely cover the cost. Download the overview here.
Book, out now
Entitled “Malawi Priorities: A Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) for Policy Prioritisation”, the project’s
research outputs have been pooled into an edited book that summarises the individual research
pieces into select chapters – acknowledging all contributing technical experts respectively.
How where the solutions chosen?
Each research questions were analyzed by a team of NPC and Copenhagen Consensus economists together with international and local experts. The aim was to determine both short-term and long-term development priorities for the country, acknowledging that there are insufficient resources to address all of Malawi’s challenges and that maximizing outcomes requires careful, evidence-based consideration of the costs and benefits of all policies.
How where the prioritized areas chosen?
As a first step, Malawi Priorities drew questions from the NPC research agenda that could be answered using a cost-benefit methodology. Additional research questions were added based on input from NPC, an Academic Advisory Group (AAG) of leading scholars within Malawi, and existing literature, particularly previous cost-benefit analyses conducted by the Copenhagen Consensus Center. This process of identifying research questions for investigation generated a total of 38 potential research questions across all 6 thematic areas.
The outcomes of the Reference Group exercise were used to inform which research questions to prioritize and which interventions to focus on within those 38 potential research questions. The validation process finished in July 2020, yielding the Malawi Priorities Technical Reports.