Today Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Hon. Bright Msaka SC, launched the Capacity Building Project on Mining Contract Negotiations in Lilongwe. Msaka expressed his happiness with the project that is being started at the “beginning of the growth of our mining sector so we have a chance to do things right”. The Minister explained that “this will be the end of the Kayelekera saga”.
The national project is part of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)/African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) project aimed at strengthening the capacity of African governments to negotiate transparent, equitable and sustainable contracts in extractive industries for broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development. This is a critical part of helping African states realise the Africa Mining Vision that was adopted by African Union Heads of States in 2009. Malawi joins Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Niger as pilot countries, funded by the ninth tranche of the United Nations’ Development Account.
Since Monday 30 May 2016, stakeholders in Malawi’s mining sector gathered for preliminary discussions to establish the framework and scope of the project for the Malawian context. Coumba Doucoure Ngalani, the Lead Legal Consultant for the AMDC, provided the technical guidance for the meeting and urged the government to “make sure all stakeholders are involved” so that people can “pass on the right information” which is key for growing a extractive industries that can benefit all.
During the launch, Department of Mine’s Cassius Chirambo presented the main recommendations that emerged from the workshop deliberations. This includes the view of representatives from government, parliament, communities, civil society and the private sector who participated.
- Update all legislation, regulation and policies which government is already addressing
- Access to relevant information from public official for stakeholders including the public
- Develop and maintain Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining dedicated website
- Formalise and regulate engagement for Community Development Agreements to ensure all are treated fairly (especially in terms of resettlement and compensation)
- Learn from other countries and establish mechanisms to manage resource revenues
- Develop local content policy and rules
- Review policy, law and model production sharing agreements for oil and gas
- Build the human resources within Malawi and enhance national institutions’ ability to deliver relevant courses
- Establish core negotiation team with appropriate skills
- Raise awareness of the Africa Mining Vision and ensure effective domestication
- Develop Corporate Social Responsibility policy and model Mining Development Agreement
- Improve coordination between the public and government agencies
Hon. Msaka explained that
It is very difficult for the population to believe a fair deal has been made. […] I ask “what is wrong with it [Kayelekera]?” Even the most vociferous cannot give an answer. As a layman in the field, I do not know whether to agree or not. Now this is off my shoulders and in the hands of experts.
When the overwhelming majority of Malawians will say “that is a fair deal” that will make me smile.
He emphasised the critical role to be played by the negotiators that will be trained through the project and the importance of ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent corruption
It is my hope that the minerals of Malawi bring health, happiness and prosperity for all Malawians. This is the responsibility of the people who will negotiate. Malawi will be a rich or a poor country depending on what you do.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative that Malawi joined was mentioned by the Minister who underlined the government’s commitment to transparency as
the only way we can assure our nation that things are happening right. It is important for all key information to be made available to all people beginning from the issuance of mining licences – who is obtaining licences? Under what terms?
The main capacities to be strengthened in the implementation of this Project are: (i) to negotiate equitable and sustainable extractive industry contracts and (ii) to monitor the implementation of contracts and ensure their adherence to regulatory frameworks. This is with the intent to bring about structural transformation for inclusive growth and sustainable development in Malawi.