President Peter Mutharika has lifted ban on the oil and gas exploration exercise on Lake Malawi opening the path for resumption of oil exploration on Lake Malawi, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda disclosed at a press briefing in Lilongwe.
Addressing the press today, Chaponda said that those that were suspended will resume operations.
“I am pleased to inform you that the President (Peter Mutharika) has lifted the ban. More details will come from the relevant ministry. I am glad that the president has picked this path. The mining sector will play an important role,” Chaponda said.
However, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, asked for time before he comments on the matter.
The move has already stirred up some interest from several European and Asian nations who are seeking to either provide technical support to Malawi’s fledgling gas and oil industry or act as investors.
Mutharika suspended oil and gas exploration on the lake in 2014 because of allegations that the awarding of licenses to foreign companies was dubiously done.
The UN through its agency UNESCO also protested the decision to grant an exploration concession at a world heritage site, the Lake Malawi National Park to Rakgas.
UNESCO in a letter addressed to Malawi government demanded government to cancel the contract and asked Malawi to re-affirm its commitment to preserve the heritage site.
According to Chaponda, oil and gas exporters Georgia and Kazakhstan, are among the nations who have courted Malawi on the oil and gas exploration. They held discussions with Malawi government officials on the sidelines of the 26th African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Chaponda said these countries will provide expertise and share their knowledge.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes on AU engagements show that Chaponda met Republic of Georgia’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Jalagania, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister Ycrzhan Ashikbayev and Morocco’s Foreign Affairs deputy Minister Sala Heddine Mezouar.
Georgia’s deputy minister, in particular, offered training to Malawians in public health, oil and gas processing and education at Universities in Georgia to be paid for by the Georgian Government.
Both countries are vying for UN Security Council rotational seats and made the offers partly as part of canvassing support for respective bids.
Malawi which ranks lowly in most human development and economic indicators, eyes the oil, gas and mining sector as an alternative to the dying green gold, tobacco—the major forex earner.