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The Science and Technology Act of 2003 also established a Science and Technology Fund to finance research and studies through government grants and loans but, as of 2014, this was not yet operational. The Secretariat of the National Commission for Science and Technology has reviewed the Strategic Plan for Science, Technology, and Innovation (2011–2015) but, as of early 2015, the revised policy had not yet met with Cabinet approval.  Malawi is conscious of the need to attract more foreign investment to foster technology transfer, develop human capital and empower the private sector to drive economic growth.
A proportional representation of Malawi exports, 2019 In addition, some setbacks have been experienced, and Malawi has lost some of its ability to pay for imports due to a general shortage of foreign exchange, as investment fell 23% in 2009. There are many investment barriers in Malawi, which the government has failed to address, including high service costs and poor infrastructure for power, water, and telecommunications.
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To the south of Lake Malawi lie the Shire Highlands, gently rolling land at approximately 914 metres (3, 000 ft) above sea level. In this area, the Zomba and Mulanje mountain peaks rise to respective heights of 2, 134 and 3, 048 metres (7, 000 and 10, 000 ft).  Malawi's capital is Lilongwe, and its commercial centre is Blantyre with a population of over 500, 000 people.  Malawi has two sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lake Malawi National Park was first listed in 1984 and the Chongoni Rock Art Area was listed in 2006.
Upon reaching northern Lake Malawi, the group divided, with one group moving south down the west bank of the lake to become the group known as the Chewa, while the other group, the ancestors of today's Nyanja, moved along the east side of the lake to the southern section of Malawi. Ethnic conflict and continuing migration prevented the formation of a society that was uniquely and cohesively Malawian until the dawn of the 20th century.
It gained full independence from the United Kingdom, and by 1970 had become a totalitarian one-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained in this role until 1994.  Today, Malawi has a democratic, multi-party republic headed by an elected president. Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party led the Tonse Alliance grouping of nine political parties and won the court-mandated Presidential Election rerun held on 23 June 2020 after the May 2019 Presidential Election was annulled due to massive electoral irregularities. The country's military, the Malawian Defence Force, includes an army, a navy, and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western. It maintains positive diplomatic relations with most countries, and participates in several international organisations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Union (AU).
Re-elected in 1999, Muluzi remained president until 2004, when Bingu wa Mutharika was elected. Although the political environment was described as "challenging", it was stated in 2009 that a multi-party system still existed in Malawi.  Multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections were held for the fourth time in Malawi in May 2009, and President Mutharika was successfully re-elected, despite charges of election fraud from his rival.
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Malawi's economy, while Banda was president, was often cited as an example of how a poor, landlocked, and heavily populated country deficient in mineral resources could achieve progress in both agriculture and industrial development.  While in office, and using his control of the country, Banda constructed a business empire that eventually produced one-third of the country's GDP and employed 10% of the wage-earning workforce. Multi-party democracy (1993–present) Under pressure for increased political freedom, Banda agreed to a referendum in 1993, where the populace voted for a multi-party democracy. In late 1993, a presidential council was formed, the life presidency was abolished and a new constitution was put into place, effectively ending the MCP's rule.  In 1994 the first multi-party elections were held in Malawi, and Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi (a former Secretary General of the MCP and former Banda Cabinet Minister).