🇲🇼 Blantyre is Malawi's centre of finance and commerce, and its second largest city. It is sometimes referred to as the commercial and industrial capital of Malawi. It is the capital of the country's Southern Region as well as the Blantyre District.
Economy Blantyre City is the commercial and industrial capital. It is by far the major employment generator in the country and has the greatest multiplier effect on the urban economy. The city is Malawi's industrial centre with many manufacturing plants. There are eight designated industrial areas: Makata, Ginnery Corner, Maselema, Limbe, Chirimba, South Lunzu, Maone and Chitawira. Of these Makata, Ginnery Corner, Maselema, Limbe, Chirimba and Maone are actively hosting industries whilst South Lunzu is yet to be developed.
The existing industrial sites are further categorised into heavy and light sites. Makata and Limbe, for example, are the sole heavy industrial sites hosting more than 30 companies.
While Chirimba industrial area is designated a heavy industrial area, it is the least developed in terms of number of industries. Apart from Makata, Ginnery corner industrial site is another active site followed by Limbe and Maselema. The least are Chirimba and Maone industrial sites. Chitawira and Maselema are classic examples of light industrial areas. All the industrial areas are located along the banks of the main rivers or streams of Blantyre city. Makata industrial area lies between Mudi and Nasolo streams whilst Ginnery Corner industrial area is along Mudi River. Maselema industrial area exists along the Naperi river and Chirimba stream hosts Chirimba industrial area.
There are several rules for treatment of wastes in the industries, but disposal of untreated wastewater into drains and, subsequently, into the city's major streams is very common, thus posing a potential health and environmental risk to the people in Blantyre and downstream. Other sources of water pollution in the city such as run-offs from domestic and agricultural activities and vehicle emissions have been identified. Previous studies have indicated substantial heavy metal pollution in the city's water bodies including streams. Major changes in industrial activities have occurred in the city including a decrease in volumes of wastewater generated by the David Whitehead company, which used to be a major contributor of wastewater effluent in Makata industrial area; change of ownership and wastewater management of Cold Storage Company; closure of the Shire Bus Line; doubling of wastewater generation from both Carlsberg and Chibuku Products due to increase in production and installation of some industrial pre-treatment plants such as at Chibuku, Plascon and Dulux.
Manufacturing contributes approximately 14% to GDP. The sector is still hampered by monopolistic behaviour (cotton), trade barriers, lack of access to capital, illegal imports, and unpredictable implementation or lack of implementation of existing bilateral trade agreements.
The employment structure includes formal and informal sectors, together offering employment that is estimated to be between 50,000 and 55,000 jobs and absorbing 62% of the labour force. The formal sector employment consists of primary, secondary and tertiary industry sub-sectors, and the informal sector is principally small-scale business operations. The tertiary or services industry sub-sector is leading in terms of employment creation and importance to the economy of the city; it employs 26,074 people accounting for 56.5% of total formal employment. The secondary industry sub-sector employs 18,824 people principally in manufacturing and accounts for about 41% of the total employment. Information on informal sector activities is scanty or non-existent. But a recent study by Africon and field investigation under the Blantyre City Environmental City Profile, leads to the conclusion that it is a substantial and vibrant economy, offering employment to about 4,500 people who would otherwise be unemployed.
Blantyre is home to the Malawi Stock Exchange located on Victoria Avenue, the heart of the city. It opened its doors in November 1996 and operates under the Capital Market Development Act 1990 and the Companies Act 1984. Before the listing of the first company, the major activities that were being undertaken were the provision of a facility for secondary market trading in Government of Malawi bonds, namely Treasury Bills and Local Registered Stocks.
As Malawi's main economic and financial hub, the city plays host to an annual international trade fair each May. The event seeks to showcase the best of Malawian commerce, industry, agriculture and information technology and opened under a theme of "Building Productivity Capacity to Achieve Export Competitiveness" in 2007.
According to the Mercer 2017 Cost of Living Rankings, Blantyre is the city with the fifth-lowest cost of living for expatriates in the world.
Blantyre is rated Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.
Blantyre is rated D by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. D cities are regional hub cities. Blantyre has a population of over 800,264 people. Blantyre also forms part of the wider Blantyre-Limbe metropolitan area which has a population of over 932,000 people.