Malawi listened today to the president, Joyce Banda, as she gave her State of the Nation Address to open the 44th session of parliament. She has declared that chaka chino ndi chaka chamayankho (the year will be marked with breakthroughs).
Banda, who was recently recognised with an honorary Doctorate in Economics by a South Korean university, Jeonju University, for her efforts to improve Malawi’s economy, addressed the nation under the heading of “Unity of Purpose Towards Economic Recovery”, alluding often to the 18-month Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) that she unveiled mid last year. This plan, her efforts and the honorary doctorate have all come under fire over the last few weeks.
In spite of her critics, in the State of the Nation Address, she declared that this year will be,
A year that demands of us to draw on the energy and ingenuity of the nation to give birth to something that will surely be new, good and beautiful, and that is a new Malawi.
A Malawi sustained by a growing economy capable of extending sustainable and equitable benefits to all our people.
A Malawi that is food secure with a modernised, commercialised and industrialized agriculture where farming is managed as a business. A Malawi that has expanded irrigation agriculture of two growing seasons a year.
A Malawi generating enough power to support both domestic and industrial needs.
A Malawi that is a world class destination for tourism with a vibrant culture and thriving art industry.
A Malawi that has a developed mining industry where its citizens are primary beneficiaries of the resources.
A Malawi where roads and rail criss-cross the length and breadth of the country; where its airports are a hub for the regional and international transportation networks.
A Malawi that has a healthy population, well-trained and skilled workforce.
She went on to emphasise the importance of improving the legal and institutional framework, enhancing mining and oil exploration activities and promoting foreign and local investors along with small-scale artisanal miners. Improvements in infrastructure (such as roads and railway connections) as well as in the energy sector will also have a positive impact on mining.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, mining is one of the five priority sectors of the ERP because of its potential to generate foreign exchange. It is for this reason that I have created a full Ministry of Mining. As one of my Government’s priority sector, mining was being overshadowed by other equally important sectors namely energy and environmental affairs. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this split will make the Ministry of Mining more visible, focused and effective
The Ministry of Mining has prioritised the following projects:
Establishment of legal and institutional framework
Mr. Speaker, Sir, my Government is committed to promotion of a conducive, transparent and accountable mining regime in this country. In this regard, Government is reviewing Mines and Minerals Act, Petroleum Policy and Petroleum Act. My Government will ensure that the mineral resources benefit Malawians.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government launched the Mining Growth and Governance Support Project on 22nd January, 2013, which is being funded by the French Government, World Bank and the European Union. The project will facilitate the development of infrastructure for generation and distribution of reliable geological information and the development of policy instruments to steer good governance and growth of the mining sector.
Enhancement of mining and oil exploration activities
In the past few months, the mining sector continued to conduct bankable feasibility studies and exploration over Kanyika Niobium deposits in Mzimba, and rare earth minerals and bauxite in Phalombe and Mulanje, respectively.
Promotion of local and foreign investors in the mining industry
Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government has put in place mechanisms to promote participation of local and foreign investors in the mining industry as a means of generating income and creating employment for poverty reduction. My Government is assisting small scale miners by mobilising mining artisans into cooperatives and building their capacity in mining so that they add value to their mineral products.
Her address touched on many other relevant areas and can be read in full online.