Malawi may be poor when it comes to economic productivity but the country is very rich when valued based on its total wealth, which includes natural, human and social resources, which the World Bank has put at US$88.9 billion.
When the natural capital is divided among each person in the country’s 17.2 million population, each person would have resources of about US$5,750 at their disposal.
This is way much higher than Malawi’s conventional gross national product (GDP) wealth which is estimated at a meagre US$4.3 billion, with every person estimated to earn US$250 – making Malawi one of the poorest countries in the world.
In its second Malawi Economic Monitor, the World Bank – however, warns that depletion of natural resources through unsustainable development threatens Malawi’s natural wealth and economic prospects.
The World Bank says total wealth is calculated by also looking at natural and intangible capital and not just produced capital from which the conventional GDP estimations come.
“As in the case of many low income nations, natural capital is an important asset for Malawi, comprising more than 50 percent of its total wealth,” says the bank’s report.
Intangible capital, which includes human and social capital, accounts for 35 percent of Malawi’s total wealth while produced capital accounts for just 15 percent, according to the World Bank.
Government has s ince acknowledged the bank’s observation on unsustainable use of resources and states that a number of measures have been put in place to arrest the problem.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson, Nations Msowoya, said in an interview that while forestry and fisheries resources are depleting, mineral resources can be well managed now following the new data that shows real mineral wealth.