Registering 9 million citizens in Malawi for access to public services

Setting the scene

As a vocal advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we know just how important inclusive development is to thriving economies and sustainable communities. For Malawi, a key step on its development journey is a project to give each of the country’s 9 million citizens their own biometrically secure identity card. This would be a critical part of increasing public access to vital services like healthcare and free primary education, government public services, social cash transfer as well as essential financial services, such as getting a bank loan.

One of the 4,000 PwC contracted Registration Officers who have been trained to register Malawi citizens for access to vital public services. 

“Malawi is seeing the first light of a new stage in its development. No one is left behind when everyone can now prove they’re Malawian and rightfully claim public services that should be delivered to bona fide Malawians. And Malawi will not be left behind as long as its young people have skills that will help take this country to the next stage. This is a game changer.”

Kikkan HaugenNorwegian ambassador to Malawi

How we helped

Together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, PwC Malawi has been working to make sure the motto of the project – “no-one gets left behind” – rings true for all Malawians. However registering 9 million eligible citizens aged 16 years and above, across both urban and rural regions, is a major undertaking and a game changer. The Malawi Government set itself the target of completing the task in just eight months.

That meant designing, establishing and managing the systems, equipment and processes for a national registration and identity programme. It also meant designing and deploying millions of advanced biometric smartcards and providing safe and secure means of sharing data with other systems in accordance with international standards on data protection. The ultimate goal is to have a process of continuous registration in place by the end of 2018, and a National Registration Bureau (NRB) capable of maintaining and operating the system.


In five separate phases, these Registration Officers - organised in teams of two - are responsible for visiting the 28 districts of the country, spread over three regions, to register eligible Malawians – that’s an average of 4,000 citizens for each team.

In order to ensure the effective management of the programme, the firm also recruited 240 Registration Supervisors. These individuals were trained in their vital responsibilities in accordance with a five-day course delivered by UNDP and NRB experts. At the end of the course, they were qualified to instruct Registration Officers in the use of the biometric registration equipment to be used in the field. The firm is also taking care of payroll for these temporary staff members, and providing essential financial reporting to both the UNDP and the Malawi government.

By the end of Phase 3 in August 2017, over 6 million people had been registered. Phases 4 and 5 are currently underway, with all eligible Malawians expected to have a legal identity by 31 December 2017.

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