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AD13: Malawians admire South Africa as development model, see strong influence of U.S. and China

Joseph J. Chunga 13 Feb 2015 Malawi
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Key findings
  • Malawians express mixed views about the role of China in their country. About four in 10 (43%) say China’s economic development assistance does a “very good” or “somewhat good” job of meeting the country’s development needs, while almost as many (38%) say the opposite. Half (50%) of respondents say China’s economic and political influence is positive.
  • South Africa (cited by 31% of respondents) leads countries that Malawians look up to as a model for their development path, followed by the United States (24%), China (17%), and the United Kingdom (10%).
  • A significant proportion of Malawians say they don’t know whether international organisations such as the SADC (43%), African Union (44%), and COMESA (47%) are of help to their country. However, this is a significant decrease from the 2008 Afrobarometer survey.

South Africa ranks highest among models for Malawi’s future development, according to Malawians’ perceptions of international relations expressed in a recent Afrobarometer survey. The United States is the second-most-popular model and is regarded as the most influential country in Malawi.

While acknowledging China’s influence on their country, seven years after the establishment of diplomatic ties, Malawians are almost equally divided as to whether China’s economic development assistance does a good job in meeting Malawi’s development needs. Appreciation of China’s infrastructure and business investments reflects Malawi’s needs in these areas, while the quality of Chinese products is the most damaging factor for China’s image.

Joseph Chunga

Joseph J. Chunga is a research fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Zomba, Malawi.