Malawi President, Arthur Peter Mutharika seeks to transform the country-chiefly reputed as an agricultural – driven economy- into a mining frontier to assist accelerate its growth.
With barely 60 days in office, having ascended to power on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket in the country’s first tripartite elections, Mutharika looks poised to rejuvenate the country’s economy by diversifying into mining than agriculture.
He said this when he Opened the 45th Session of Parliament and Provisional Budget Meeting on 17 July with the speech, “Transforming Our Country into a Prosperous Nation with a Shared Vision Mutharika” focused on the vision set out in the DPP manifesto.
Addressing lawmakers, Mutharika reiterated the decision to establish an independent contract negotiating unit in extractive resources and to subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
However, Mutharika did not touch on the ongoing dispute between Tanzania and Malawi over Lake Malawi and its oil resources.
Tanzanians and Malawians wonder if he will change the country’s approach to this dispute which almost sent the two countries into fully fledged war
Mutharika told lawmakers that Malawi is richly endowed with high value mineral resources which constitute an important source of wealth for development and foreign exchange for the country. Malawi.
The contribution of this sector to the country’s GDP has risen from three per cent in 2009 to 10 per cent currently; although the potential to rise to 20 per cent by 2016 due to Malawi’s unique mineral potential are imminent.
It is the Government’s desire to prioritize the effective exploration of the resources.
Government is committed to the promotion of the mining sector in the country; Mutharika is cited as saying by Nyasa Times.
“In this regard, we will endeavour to provide an enabling environment for attracting investments into the sector through the development of new policy, legal and institutional frameworks that protect the long term interests of the country.” President Mutharika added.
“Currently, there are a number of foreign companies that are actively engaged in the exploration and evaluation of various minerals in different parts of the country, including rare earth metals, uranium, gold and titanium bearing heavy mineral sands.”
The Malawi Government, with support from the World Bank and the European Union started carrying out a country-wide airborne geophysical survey recently to identify areas with mineral potential and provide readily available information to prospective investors in the sector.
Government will, in the coming financial year, President Mutharika said commence a Geological Mapping exercise of the whole country, with support from the French Government.
This, it is hoped will lead to the production of new geological, mineral occurrence, geochemical, metallogenic and seism-tectonic maps for the country.
The Government further seeks to ensure that in future, mining contracts are properly negotiated to maximise benefits for the country. In this regard, Government will establish an independent contract negotiating unit in extractive resources.
It it’s the Government’s desire to ensure it contributes to the country’s welfare and improve the social being of its people by remaining accountable through joining transparency biased bodies.
“Further, we will subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
During the sitting, President Mutharika briefly linked efforts in mining to his commitment to continue to implement the National Export Strategy (2013-2018) (annexes including Vol. 3 Support Plan for Mining) to develop Malawi’s productive base to allow for both export competitiveness and economic empowerment.
The programme is further intended to establish a “one-stop” investment centre to promote and encourage increased investment in the productive sectors especially in agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism.
Under the section on Education and Human Development, Mutharika highlighted the training of students in fieleds related to the extractive industries adding that Out of the 10,000 students.
Of the total, 6,000 students will pursue degree programmes in mining, geology, mineral processing, metallurgy, electronic engineering, telecommunications, construction technology, bio-medics, education, tourism, just to mention a few; while 4,000 rural youths will pursue various TEVET programmes.
Mutharika also underscored the importance of in-country research on harnessing Malawi’s natural resources noting that the DDP-led Government is aware that there has not been a deliberate policy for developing science and technology for macroeconomic growth in our country.
“We will therefore give very high priority to locally-based research programmes and adaptation and utilization of science and technology specifically designed to convert our agricultural primary commodities, minerals and other natural resources into new wealth.
Meanwhile, Mutharika is yet to announce his full cabinet although he named Goodall Gondwe as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Development earlier this month on 6 June.
The number of ministerial portfolios, including deputy ministers, will be reduced to 20 when appoint. It is not clear when.