Ethiopia-based African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) has trained the country’s mining experts on negotiating win-win mining deals with potential investors.
The intervention comes at a time Malawians are groping in the dark on how government settled for 15 percent stake and a tax breaks with Paladin (Africa) Limited, a subsidiary company of dual-listed Paladin Energy Limited, which stopped mining uranium Kayerekera in Karonga.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday when he launched the capacity building initiative, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka said giving local experts strong negotiating skills could be a long-lasting solution to ensure that negotiated deals are beneficial to Malawians.
He asked the negotiators, who have been undergoing training since Monday this week, to guard against kickbacks, selfish interests and external influence in their duty to ensure the country’s mining potential brings “wealth, happiness and prosperity” to Malawians.
Said Msaka: “I could not have launched a more important initiative than this. It is very difficult for people to believe that they are getting a fair deal. When people talk about the Kayerekera bad deal, I always ask them what is wrong with it.
“Not even the most vociferous is able to explain the gaps. What about the ordinary Malawian in the village?”
He said AMDC intervention is part of the African Union (AU) agenda to entrench the African Mining Vision (AMV) which heads of States signed in February 2009.
The pan-African centre delved into the country’s mining context on government’s invitation, said lead consultant Coumba Doucoure-Ngalani.
According to Doucore-Ngalani, the contract negotiation training is just a component of a continental drive to ensure country’s mining framework is in line with the AMV.
For months, the centre has been working with the Malawi Government and non-State actors to ensure that the ongoing amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 accommodates the aspirations of Malawians.
Doucoure-Ngalani challenged the trainees to share the vital knowledge with the rest of the population to ensure that there are no uncertainties on how they arrive at the mining deals.
“When it comes to contract negotiation, knowledge and information sharing are the key,” she said.
Calls were almost unanimous among the delegates to the contract negotiation training for improved access to information to open up the top-bottom industry.
They also asked government to come up with a local content policy to ensure Malawians benefit from the mining sector. n