Mining in the Mix: Angola and Malawi Meet During AU Summit to Strengthen Economic Ties

Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, and Angola’s vice president, Manuel Vincente, met on Monday (28 January 2013) to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, especially in the mining sector, according to the Angolan Press.

Joyce Banda praised Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, for socio-economic development and the fight against poverty in Angola over the last decade. As a result, she expressed her desire to strengthen ties with Angola and to learn from Angola’s experience in rural development. She suggested cooperation with the Angolan government in the mining, oil and agriculture sectors especially because Malawi is witnessing a boom in mining activities. The Angolan vice president noted the importance of identifying areas of possible cooperation in the spirit of south-south cooperation.

Perhaps Joyce Banda is heeding advice. At the recent launch of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project in Malawi, both the European Union Ambassador to Malawi and the Country Manager of the World Bank in Malawi commented on the opportunity Malawi has to learn from the best practice and experiences of other countries since Malawi is a “latecomer” to the mining industry.

The meeting between the two leaders of Malawi and Angola took place during the African Union’s (AU) 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which was held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week.

Although the theme of the Summit was “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”, resolving conflict in the continent was in fact high on the agenda. Discussions centred on conflict situations in Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Comoros, Sudan, South Sudan, Madagascar, Western Sahara and more recently, Mali and the Sahel.

According to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African AU Commission Chairperson, “While we are proud of the progress made in expanding and consolidating peace and security on the continent, we also acknowledge that a lot is still desired to resolve ongoing, renewed and new conflicts in some African countries”.

Time will tell if the Summit has been successful in resolving conflict across the continent, although some commentators already point to the AU’s failure in this area.

Possibly more important for Malawi is if Joyce Banda’s efforts to restore old and establish new relationships with other African governments (she has already welcomed the presidents of Benin, Thomas Yayi Boni, and Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, to Malawi this January 2013) will be advantageous in increasing and improving Malawi’s extractive industry.

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