Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in Malawi: Lessons from other Southern African States

7th December 2020
Author: Robin Richards

This rapid review focusses on what the government of Malawi can learn from the implementation of indigenisation, economic empowerment and affirmative action policies in other countries. The review specifically looks at the lessons for Malawi on the implementation of indigenisation policies drawing on the experiences from the following countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Findings from the review show that where indigenisation policies are implemented incrementally, without sweeping and radical changes, the risks in terms of discouraging foreign investments to the country are minimised because there is an element of predictability in the formulation and implementation of these policies. Empowerment legislation should also be introduced and implemented transparently with clear regulations for each sector of the economy. Botswana and South Africa are examples of an incremental approach to adopting empowerment policies for Black economic advancement. When empowerment policies are populist and politicised so that it favours a ruling elite and its network of supporters, this damages economic development and discourages investment into the economy of a country. In these instances, as the countries in this review show, empowerment programmes do not benefit the majority of economically marginalised citizens.

Suggested Citation

Richards, R. (2020). Indigenisation and economic empowerment in Malawi: lessons from other southern African states. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


7th December 2020


Continent: Africa

Country: Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe