The piece “Comment: Misguided comments against mining companies may scare away investors” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 27 2015 that is circulating this July 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Misguided comments against mining companies may scare away investors
For the first time, the Malawi Investment Forum was held right here in our beautiful country christened the warm heart of Africa.
We congratulate the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the rest of the organisers of the event for making use of the modern and majestic Bingu International Conference Centre to host such a high profile event.
In his speech, Head of State, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, stressed that Malawi is ready to receive investment in any sector including mining.
The President equally stressed that in order to improve the investment climate for the country; his government is developing various infrastructures that support investment in mining and other economic sectors.
He, among other projects, cited the development of electricity development projects including the Mozambique-Malawi Power Interconnector, upgrading of the railway and road network and intensification of security as some of the measures that his government is implementing in order to facilitate the opening of the investors’ wallets.
Indeed, the hosting of an event of such magnitude symbolizes the hunger that the country has to receive investments of different sorts.
Consequently, it is important that we, Malawians, should unite for a common goal, which is to create a conducive and stable atmosphere for investment.
It was, however, unfortunate that while preparations for such an event, which has contributed in putting Malawi on the map as an investment destination of choice, were underway, some individuals were busy making comments discrediting some few investments in mining that the country has had an opportunity to receive.
A case in point was the launch of the report by the civil society that pointed out some alleged irregularities in the operations of Paladin Africa’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga.
We are not against the report but we feel the timing for the launch leaves a lot to be desired. We feel instead of launching such a report at that crucial time as far as wooing investment is concerned, the best way for the civil society was to initially engage in a dialogue with the Malawi Government and Paladin Africa to iron out any other concerns over Kayelekera and launch the report later (if not satisfied with the results of the negotiations) after the hype on the investment forum had subdued.
We at Mining Review believe that the duty of attracting investors is not only for the President, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre; rather it is for all the citizens of the country, be it in government, private sector, civil society and the media.
It will, therefore, do more harm than good for some selected individuals to start discrediting mining investors who have invested their time and money to develop our resources not only for their own benefit but also for the benefit of the country, which taxes on the investments and has its citizens securing employment with the mining firms.
In this vein, we are not saying it is wrong to criticise investors who are just like us and not semi-gods but we find it appropriate to give dialogue a chance before going to town tarnishing the image of a particular investor.
In fact, dialogue has already proven the right way forward in this situations as in the case of Paladin, which has been under fire from some quarters for allegedly failing to fulfill corporate social responsibility obligations, an agreement has been scratched with the government and the community, which binds the company to construct a hospital at Kayelekera as part of its corporate social responsibility obligations.
We have to bear in mind that with donor fatigue showing its wings, the best way to go for Malawi is attracting investors and with the prevailing competition for investment among countries globally, no right minded foreign investor can bring money to a country where his colleagues are being ridiculed.
The hosting of the investment forum should, therefore, be a historical symbol that cements Malawi as an investor friendly country. It should be a borderline for transformation of those Malawians that viewed investors with a sense of animosity.
Let us turn the peaceful and beautiful nation into a haven for investment for our benefit and that of future generations!