Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and in Blantyre, nearly a quarter of the population are officially living in poverty. The unit of currency is the Malawian kwacha (MWK).
Over 40% of Blantyre residents work for private enterprise, while approximately 12% work in the public sector. Around 36% of people are classified as self-employed, although for many this means casual labor. Some people living in Blantyre are employed in the television industry, as the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (which is the country’s national broadcaster) is based in the city.
Agriculture is still one of the biggest sectors of the economy in Malawi. Agriculture and manufacturing in the Blantyre area produce goods such as soft drinks, food, tobacco, shoes, plastics and metals. Tourism is a small but expanding economic contributor in Malawi, currently generating around 5% (direct) and 9% (indirect) of the country’s GDP. Blantyre is a popular tourist destination because of its history. Significant growth is anticipated in the tourism sector.
Many expats come to work in Blantyre in the foreign aid sector. Other expats move to Blantyre to work in the hospitals, where qualified medical professionals are always in demand. Teaching roles are sometimes available in the international schools too.
Malawi’s Immigration Office has set out regulations relating to the employment of foreign nationals. A position may only be offered to an expatriate if the employer can demonstrate that the vacancy could not be filled by a citizen of Malawi. The policy also requires that the employer should put plans in place to have a Malawian learn the relevant skills from the expatriate with a view to having the local person take over the role eventually.
One condition for entry into Malawi is to have a period of at least six months remaining on your passport. Residents of the US, Canada, Australia and some European countries are not required to have a visa. If you do require a visa, you must apply for it in advance through the Malawian embassy in your home country, as you will not be allowed entry into Malawi without one.
Before you can start work in Blantyre, you must have a Temporary Employment Permit (TEP). Under local law, it is a criminal offence to begin employment without the TEP, and anyone caught doing so could be prosecuted. In most cases, a TEP can be renewed just twice. Expats wishing to stay in Malawi on a longer basis would need to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit.