The piece “Geo-data stagnates at gazetting level” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 33 that is circulating this January 2016.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Geo-data stagnates at gazetting level
By Chiku Jere
Calls to fast-track the gazetting of the country’s mineral anomaly data which was acquired through the World Bank and European Union co-funded High Resolution Airborne Geophysical Survey seems to be falling on deaf ears as government continues to apparently drag its feet.
This publication carried a similar story in the last edition and the prompt feedback from our wide readership base, both local and international, which comprises of technocrats as well as probable and capable investors indicates that there is an aura of frustration due to the delay in making the data available.
Spokesperson for Mines in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Levy Wesley Undi recently responded to a questionnaire from Mining & Trade Review indicating that the gazetting process would be completed by the first week of December 2015 but reliable sources from the ministry have confided that there has not been any tangible progress on the issue.
In his response, Undi explains that the data distribution is waiting for the effecting of a legal requirement of having the price schedule gazetted first by the Ministry of Justice.
However, he says that the data is available for viewing and some clients are making requisitions for the data that they want.
The publicist refuses to reveal the price of the data explaining that the amounts are in the price schedule yet to be gazetted.
So let us wait for this process to be completed.
Nonetheless, one investor who e-mailed in exasperation wondered why it was taking such long, six months after the data was officially launched to regularise the data and make it available to those interested.
Does this gazetting process take that long? I thought this country is seriously making efforts to woe in investors, but with this kind of bureaucratic delays, I don’t think it will work,
bemoans the investor.
The investor says it is unfortunate that there are such delays despite the promise that the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka made during the data launch, to expedite the process of making the data accessible.
This is really very sad for a country that desperately needs investment to help it turn its economic fortunes,
says the investor.
But Undi insists that there is no need for worry because clients can view the data and make requisitions and once the gazetting is through, it will be just be a matter of giving out which ever data one wants.
He also parries fears that suggest that a price tag on the data would scare away investors, arguing that it is a standard practice in most countries for clients to pay a nominal fee to access geo-scientific data,
be it geological, geochemical, geohazard, geophysics, or technical reports.
For serious investors this is a known fact and they cannot fail to invest because of a small fee charged on data that government has spent millions of dollars or alternatively can cost them millions of dollars to generate themselves,
He further puts it that the availability of such data is an incentive to investors because it reduces risks in selecting potential exploration targets.
Undi explains that the revenue realised through the data fee is there just to cover some administrative issues related to management of the data and reproduction of the data such as
printing, copies of DVDs, memory stick and courier services, if we are to send data to clients.