Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika looks forward to “legally declaring Malawi’s mineral wealth” in 2016

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The President Arthur Peter Mutharika gave a New Year’s Address on 1 January 2016. In the speech, he looks forward to the gazetting of Malawi’s geo-data following a geophysical survey, which is a process that is taking longer than is necessary, according to reporting by the Mining & Trade Review this January. That said, the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka was quoted on Tuesday by The Daily Times saying that the geophysical data is now accessible to investors.

This is what the President said about Malawi’s mining and minerals:

And this new year, we will continue creating a favourable environment for private sector investments and development. As a nation, we will remember 2015 as the year we made a revolution in scientifically proving that, in terms of mineral wealth, Malawi is one the richest lands on earth. The people are poor yes, but this country is rich.

The list of confirmed and potential minerals is too long for me to exhaust. Let it suffice to say, for transparency and accountability, we are gazzetting all the information on Malawi’s mineral wealth. The Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has already signed and sealed the document for the gazzetting. And I look forward to 2016 as the year we are legally declaring Malawi’s mineral wealth. I look forward to the year when you and I will celebrate that Malawi is indeed the land of infinite hope.

The full speech can be read below. The “potential minerals” spoken of by the President is evidently not the same as reserves and feasible mining projects – so it will take a lot more investment (and risk) on the part of the private sector to conduct exploration work. This geo-data will only go so far.

The Leader of the Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, also delivered a New Year’s message. No mention of mining, but Chakwera described the the “struggling” private sector and the “gloomy prospects” facing Malawi.

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GOVERNMENT OF MALAWI NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROFESSOR ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, ON 1ST JANUARY 2016

Happy New Year to you fellow Malawians, wherever you are! This is a new year we have lived to see. Let us thank God our Father for it. We all feel humbled that Great Grace has taken us this far, and Providence has walked on our side.

Fellow Malawians, I come to speak to you cheered up, encouraged, and inspired, because I believe the worst of the times are gone. And the best for us is yet to come. The year 2015, was one of the most challenging, and most trying times in our national history.

It was the year we had the worst floods in our oldest memories. The year we lost many souls; the year we lost our loved ones !It was a strange year, in which extreme rains and devastating floods were shortly followed by scorching drought to burn the remaining crops. It was a year that brought us hunger, pain, and suffering! This was the year our national budget was tested and tried, because we operated on zero aid. This is a reason for national pride for every patriotic Malawian who aspires for our economic sovereignty.

This was the year we faced the full impact of Cash gate and donor withdrawal from our national budget. We are not proud of the reasons why donors withdrew, but we are proud that we are learning to walk on our feet as a nation. And this is the year we survived and managed with our locally generated resources.

Fellow Malawians Let me use this opportunity to thank all those who sent me messages of personal encouragement. A number of well-reasoned people, locally and internationally, have said to me: Well done Mr. President for taking Malawi through the worst year. We feared that the country and the economy would collapse. But you have driven the country through without budgetary support.

Well, let me say thank you! It is always encouraging to find people who look at our challenges positively.In spite of the challenges, development programmes never stopped. Within our limited means, we kept government running. We kept building roads. We have been renovating university campuses from our local resources. We have been building community colleges and developing skills for the youth because this is one way of creating jobs. We kept fuel flowing. We continued investing in the health infrastructure and re-organized the drug delivery systems to keep the health of the people improved. We have completed a new district hospital in Nkhata-bay among other facilities. And much more has been happening. In the past year, we moved on many fronts. And those who prayed to “the unknown god” that my Government must collapse will live to be disappointed.

Those who wrongly think of transformation as an event will be impatient and disappointed. But those who understand transformation as a process, sometimes a slow process, also understand that Malawi is moving forward. Of course, I understand the impatience that many of us want to go to bed tonight and find a transformed Malawi when we wake up tomorrow. I can understand our impatience, because we have suffered in poverty for too long, and waited for change for too long. I can also understand those of you whose political job is creating misinformation, creating doubts, pessimism and hopelessness in our people; and scoffing at everything your Government is doing, because you think that is how you win the hearts of the people. But the people will always be the better judges.

To me, my cabinet and our Government, this was the year we learnt the best lessons. In this year just gone, we have done a lot to strengthen our financial management system. And we are certain that our system will be more trusted by investors and anyone willing to partner with us in development. We don’t expect another cashgate. In any case, we now have a biting Anti-Corruption Bureau operating. They have not lost any cashgate case to-date. This is what happens when you have a government that prioritizes resources for governance institutions as we did. My only directives to them are: act professionally, act independently, and spare no sacred cows – not even my own government. With that, I expect much financial and economic progress in the new times we are heading for.

The performance of our economy slowed down in 2015, with real GDP growth of 3 percent.We all know the reasons for this – our agricultural activity was affected heavily by the floods and drought; leading to a huge drop in maize production by almost 30 percent; and contributing to rising inflation. The assessment which my Government undertook through the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, estimated that 17 percent of the total population would not be able to meet their annual food requirements during the current year.

But we have better news: we have enough food for all the 2.8 million people, to take them into the next harvest period. Out of these, a total of 1.9 million people from 168 Traditional Authorities will be given food, while about nine hundred thousand people from 58 Traditional Authorities will be given cash to purchase food commodities. In 2016, we are set and ready to face new challenges of the new year. But this time, we are prepared more than ever. And we are equipped with the best lessons from the worst situations. We now have a better disaster preparedness plan. We are set to be a nation that feeds itself in the next growing season. In a Feed Your Country Programme, we are inviting commercial farmers to produce and supply Government with One Million metric tones of maize this year. If they produce more, we will provide export permits.

Fellow Malawians, we are looking forward to a better year. In addition to the Feed Your Country arrangement made with commercial farmers, we also have an arrangement with Zambia to supply us with an extra stock of one hundred thousand metric tones of maize in case of a weak harvest in next growing season. In 2016, the economy is expected to rebound with real GDP growth of about 6 percent. This is based on the assumption that the agriculture sector will do better following the expected good rains in the year and the investments into the Green Belt Initiative. This will support food production and ease off inflation pressure in 2016. In 2015, most of us had the worst experiences with power and water supply. I believe we are closing an era that must never return. Energy and water are our lifeline, and Government is fully aware that we must end these problems once and for all in order for our lives to be comfortable, and for our investment programme to thrive. In the year that is gone, we worked hard to drastically reduce our water and power supply problems. With the Millennium Challenge Account, we have been working on ESCOM to generate and transmit more power. At the same time, we have worked out the framework of energy generation and supply to accommodate more investments from the private sector. ESCOM shall no longer have the monopoly of power generation and supply.

Above all, this was the year we made a breakthrough in energy production diversification with the arrival of the Kamwamba Coal Power Plant. As we enter this new year, I can proudly say we are all beginning to say Farewell to Blackouts. In 2015, we also made major and unprecedented strides in arresting the water supply problems in our cities. In this year, we worked hard to service and replace water pumping and distribution equipment for Blantyre Water Board, Lilongwe Water Board and Northern Region Water Board. Above all, this was the year we initiated the birth of new water projects with the Indian Line of Credit. With these projects, we are diversifying our water supply system to pump water from Lake Malawi and Mulanje Mountain.

Farewell 2015, Just like most of you, I am looking forward to a better year. My Fellow Malawians In a big way, we celebrate 2015 as the year we took historic and unprecedented steps in attracting private investment into Malawi; We started the journey of making Malawi a predominantly producing and exporting country. We enter 2016 with the firm belief that investment is the new road for Malawi’s economy. In the past year, we have secured investors across the board. We also focused on reforming policies and re-aligning them towards attracting more investments. Some of the investors have begun bringing their money to Malawi. We anticipate most of the investors to continue to bring their money into our investment haven in the New Year 2016.

We now anticipate more jobs to be created, more businesses to be created, more taxes to be paid, a more stable kwacha, and Malawi moving more towards becoming a producing and exporting nation. And this new year, we will continue creating a favourable environment for private sector investments and development. As a nation, we will remember 2015 as the year we made a revolution in scientifically proving that, in terms of mineral wealth, Malawi is one the richest lands on earth. The people are poor yes, but this country is rich.

The list of confirmed and potential minerals is too long for me to exhaust. Let it suffice to say, for transparency and accountability, we are gazzetting all the information on Malawi’s mineral wealth. The Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has already signed and sealed the document for the gazzetting. And I look forward to 2016 as the year we are legally declaring Malawi’s mineral wealth. I look forward to the year when you and I will celebrate that Malawi is indeed the land of infinite hope.

But let me repeat this: We are poor but our country is rich. What we need is to convert the natural riches of the land to be the riches of Government and the people. However, this cannot happen if we continue with our psychological poverty of being negative minded. We must move away from finger pointing to a collective resolution of the challenges we face. We are getting somewhere. We are moving forward. With Patriotism, Integrity and Hard Work, 2016 will be the year for all of us to remember.

So, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year – a year of new hope, a year of new resolutions!

AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL! AND BLESS OUR COUNTRY MALAWI!

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