Housing Finance in Malawi

Overview

This profile is also available in French here.

To download a pdf version of the full 2020 Malawi country profile, click here.

Malawi had an estimated population of 18.6 million in 2019. The southern African landlocked nation is predominantly rural with 83 percent of the population living in rural areas. A growing population and rapid rate of urbanisation in the country continues to exert substantial pressure on housing especially among the poor in the urban areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures have severely weakened 2020 growth prospects of the low income country. The 2020 GDP growth rate is projected at 1.9 percent, down from an earlier projection of 5.5 percent.[1]

Four of Malawi’s nine commercial banks provide mortgages, which are offered based on clients income. The average mortgage interest is 19.5 percent.[2] Housing construction finance is largely offered by non-bank financial institutions such as the Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE), and Epik Finance and Enterprise Development Holdings (EDH).

With the minimum wage of MK35 000 (US$47.5)[3] per month at an average price of MK10 million (US$13.6 million)[4] for a decent house and average rentals of approximately MK75 000 (US$102)[5] very few can afford to own or rent a decent house. About 70 percent of the urban population live in slums, located in the outskirts of major cities. For middle income earners it is relatively cheaper to rent rather than own a decent house due to high costs associated with construction and land acquisition procedures.

The Malawi government, through its agencies, Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and Ministry of Lands and Housing and Urban Development, have various housing initiatives underway. In its effort to support home ownership, the government has, for example, introduced a subsidy on some construction materials, given that low income earners self-build their homes.

In 2019, Habitat for Humanity reported that Malawi needs approximately 21 000 housing units every year for the next 10 years to meet the demands for the current backlog and future growth. Currently only 10 percent of the target is being delivered. From a regulatory perspective, new laws address land access and equity issues and open up opportunities for investment in rural areas. Secure customary land tenure also encourages investment and development of commercial agriculture which is crucial for the transformation of Malawi’s economy.

 

[1] Reserve Bank of Malawi (2020). Financial and Economic Review. Volume 54, Issue 2, 2020.  Pg. 2.

[2] Interview with Mr Mlongoti, National Bank of Malawi Blantyre Branch, 17 August 2020, Malawi

[3] Government of Malawi (2019). National Budget Statement 2019-2020.  https://www.finance.gov.mw/index.php/blog/budget  (Accessed 6th September 2020) Pg. 49.

[4] Interview with Zilire, Centre for Community Organisation and Development, 21 August 2020, Lilongwe, Malawi.

[5] Interview with Zilire, Centre for Community Organisation and Development, 21 August 2020, Lilongwe, Malawi.

Find out more information on the housing finance sector of Malawi, including key stakeholders, important policies and housing affordability:


Each year, CAHF publishes its Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook. The profile above is from the 2020 edition, which has up-to-date profiles for 55 African countries.

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