The piece “Airtel, TNM get kudos for mining sector role” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 29 2015 that is circulating this September 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
The publication announced its rebranding this month, moving from the Mining Review to the Mining & Trade Review
The decision to rebrand has come about in response to some of our readers from other economic sectors in addition to mining who want to be incorporated as stakeholders.
Airtel, TNM get kudos for mining sector role
By Chiku Jere
Malawi’s leading mobile telecommunication network services providers, Airtel and TNM, are playing a major role in providing reliable services which are contributing to the gradual but noticeable growth of the country’s mining sector.
This is according to the results of a study (here) commissioned by Centre for Environmental Policy Advocacy (CEPA) with support from Tilitonse Fund on the assessment of policy implementation on mining, which was presented to Mining Sector Governance Stakeholders.
In his presentation at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on August 11, 2015, Welton Phalira of a local consulting firm that executed the study, Geomine Services, singled out what he termed ‘tremendous contribution’ that the two companies, Airtel and TNM, have made towards easing the operations in the mining sector.
Not only that companies have benefited, but through these companies reliable services, advocacy to strengthening mining governance and mining policy implementation in Malawi has also been made easier, as the stakeholders were able to communicate and disseminate important information via Airtel and TNM services such as phone calls as well as internet services,
He explained that apart from robust infrastructure such as good road network, informational data and energy supply, mineral and mines development also requires reliable telecommunication services to facilitate easy communication and access to information through, among other channels, internet.
Hence it is in order to recognise the commendable improvements that these two mobile telecommunication network companies have made in easing communication in the country, which has also aided the mining sector,
Apart from the telecommunication sector the study also tackled other equally important areas as well as carrying out a systematic review and analysis of several thematic aspects such as mineral development, marketing, governance, environmental management, integration of social issues and regional and international integration.
The results were achieved by, among other methodologies, interviewing key informants in the sector such as technical personnel (Government, NGO, Private Sector), local leaders and through a questionnaire sent to technical departments, academia and district councils,
Among other key findings, the survey cited the need for robust infrastructure in terms of data, roads and energy supply for the development of the mining sector.
The study observed the existing gaps in energy and transportation sectors, as some of the shortfalls that are stifling growth of the sector.
It was also noted that participation of local Malawians was still low as there was no effective vehicle (implementation strategy) for their engagement and support.
The report recommended the need to work towards developing requisite technical and financial capacity amongst Malawians in order for them to competitively venture into mining business
It also called for initiatives towards acquiring expertise as regards mineral development and research.
But on positive note, the report noted of the increased interest and engagement of the private sector in mineral development and increased discourse on mineral development.
It was also observed that there has been active participation of the civil society, a development which will enhance transparency, accountability and good governance of the sector.
Nevertheless, the survey recommended need for deliberate policy that would provide permitting environment for investors stating that mining operations require good and stable investment climate.
Most countries provide preferential tax treatment for investors in the mines and mineral sector, because the sector, unlike others, is capital intensive and it takes time for the investor to retain the capital and start realising profits after commencement of the actual mining process,
Phalira explained, observing that as of now, Malawi has no clear tax regime for mining sector.
Making his opening remarks, CEPA’s Executive Director William Chadza commended government for the direction it has taken towards regulating the mining sector for the mutual benefit of both the investors and local communities.
Let me also applaud government for initiating measures that would curb the exploitation of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASMs) by unscrupulous middlemen who always take advantage of the current legal framework,