The piece “Editorial: 2015, year of highs and lows” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 32 that is circulating this December 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
2015, year of highs and lows
In the extractive sector, the year 2015 will remain a historical year for Malawi as this is the year when Malawi has made substantial progress in its efforts to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).
On October 22, Mining & Trade Review was privileged to join celebrations in Lilongwe organized by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development with the backing of the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) after Malawi was certified as an EITI candidate country during the EITI 30th board meeting in Bern, Switzerland.
We, just like our fellow colleagues who joined the celebrations, feel it is a great achievement for Malawi to be part of the global initiative which promotes transparency and accountability in the extractive sector as transparency and accountability are indeed the cornerstones for sustainable growth of the sector.
It is encouraging that this progress on EITI is as a result of the political will shown by President Arthur Peter Mutharika’s administration manifested by the President’s declaration in his maiden state of the nation address that Malawi should join EITI.
We commend Mutharika and his administration for committing to the policy, which will ensure that secret deals in the mining sector are avoided.
However, it is very unfortunate that despite all this effort on EITI process, Malawi seems to be in reverse when it comes to attracting investment in the extractive sector especially mining.
Of course, this year the government organized the Malawi Investment Forum in Lilongwe which was, among other things, meant to show to the world that Malawi welcomes foreign investors.
Just as he has always done, Mutharika invited investors to bring their money into Malawi’s mining and all other sectors.
Malawi also launched the airborne geophysical data within the year with the Minister of Natural Resources and Mining Bright Msaka inviting investors to sample the data.
It is, however, unfortunate that as reported in our lead article, the data the Minister launched with pomp is still not available to investors due to some red tape in government.
So what will investors invited by the President and the Minister sample in the absence of up-to-date geophysical data? Do they still have to sample the old data which the government geologists themselves say lacks more significant details?
On existing mining projects, it is disheartening that Malawi has failed to make substantial progress in 2015. The Kayelekera Uranium Mine remains on care and maintenance with Paladin Africa insisting that the price for the yellow cake is still too low to sustain production.
Another good thing that was expected in Malawi in 2015 was the launch of mine construction at Globe Metals and Mining’s Kanyika Niobium Mine. However it is taking ages for the miner and the government to scratch out a development agreement.
In the oil exploration subsector, things that started on a positive note have also grounded to a halt as the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining suspended oil exploration last year saying they are reviewing the licences.
The coal industry, which has been operating medium scale mines over the years, is also in the doldrums as imported coal from Mozambique has taken up a good share of the market. While other countries such as Tanzania are controlling imports of coal, it seems the Malawi Government is just watching imports putting our local companies out of the game.
The local cement manufacturing industry is another sector encountering the same problem of imports choking market for their products.
So the year 2015 has been one of more lows than highs for Malawi and we hope the government will work on correcting the negatives and create conducive environment for investment and prosperity in 2016.
All in all, thanks to all stakeholders for supporting us in 2015. We wish you a prosperous 2016 and hope you will continue to be with us in making awareness on mining, trade and investment issues a reality!