The common targets of science and technology policy in Malawi are based on the Science and Technology Act of 2003 and the Science and Technology Policy of 2008.
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The responsibility for science and technology policy rests with the department of Science and Head in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
The science and technology policy is implemented through the following projects: bio-safety project; community tele-centres; health research capacity strengthening initiative; ethanol fuel usage research; traditional medicine research; STI indicators; the AU science and technology innovation awards (continental, regional and national) and the Malawi national science school awards.
At the political and technical level, Malawi is committed to use STI to advance social and economic development. However, in order to take the national initiatives forward, Malawi needs partnerships at the regional and international levels (Source: COMESA, Reports on Science, Technology and Innovation, 2011)
Malawi’s first science and technology policy was adopted in 1991. However, the 1991 policy did not explicitly integrate science and technology issues into national development planning. This weakness necessitated the government reviewing the policy and to adopt a new science and technology policy in 2002. The revised policy contains clear-cut science and technology development objectives and strategies for all priority sectors of the Malawi economy. The policy also articulates the government’s commitment to increase funding for science and technology as well as to strengthen the institutional and legal framework for science and technology.
The Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology (MIST) was created shortly after the May 2004 general elections. However, MIST has since been dissolved with the industry department now residing in the newly created Ministry of Industry, Trade and Private Sector Development. Control of the Department of Science and Technology has been moved to the Office of the President and Cabinet, meaning that the department directly reports to the president. In May 2007, it was announced that the Malawian president has merged Education, and Science and Technology under a single ministry which he will personally take charge of. (Source: South African Regional Universities Association)
The government established the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) as provided for in the Science and Technology Act (No. 16 of 2003) to advance science and technology issues in Malawi. The National Research Council of Malawi and the Department of Science and Technology were integrated to form the National Commission for Science and Technology following a Cabinet directive of 20th October 2008.
The NCST principally provides S&T advice to the Government and other stakeholders on all matters related to science and technology in order to achieve a science and technology-led development. It derives its authority from the Minister responsible for Science and Technology to ensure that it reaches out to highest levels and all sectors of social and economic development in the country.
Malawi’s government sees the establishment of the Commission as a key strategy for enhancing the development and application of S&T in its development endeavors in order to accelerate the socio-economic development of the nation and improve the quality of life of its people. (Source: NCST, 2013)
Over the years, various Centres of Excellence have been established. These are, among others, the Malawi University of ST, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the University of Bangula focusing on improving technology for cotton farming to diversify away from tobacco, the University of Mombera focusing on livestock farming, and the University of Nkhotakota focusing on rice. (Source: COMESA, Reports on Science, Technology and Innovation, 2011)
Source: African Innovation Outlook 2010, NEPAD
1. Malawi Country Profile (AfDB)
2. Malawi STI Profile (World Bank)