President Peter Mutharika has lifted the suspension on the oil and gas exploration exercise on Lake Malawi, paving the way for resumption of Malawi’s dogged hunt for oil and gas.
Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda said at a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday that the move has already prompted a scramble by several European and Asian nations seeking either to provide technical support or to invest.
He said oil and gas exporters from Georgia and Kazakhstan are among those that have courted Malawi on the industry and held discussions with government officials on the sidelines of the recently held African Union [AU] summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“I am pleased to say that the President [Peter Mutharika] has lifted the ban. Those who were suspended will resume operations. More details will come from the relevant ministry. These countries will provide expertise and share their knowledge. I am glad that the President has picked this path. The mining sector will play an important role,” said Chaponda.
At the AU summit, Chaponda met 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.
Chaponda said Georgia’s deputy minister 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.
Malawi remains one of the most underdeveloped nations, lagging behind in major human development and economic indicators.
In 2014, Mutharika suspended the exploration exercise while it was in full swing, responding to allegations that the awarding of licences to foreign companies had been done dubiously.
In a legal opinion to Cabinet, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale claimed that a mischief the law intended to prevent had occurred and recommended a review of some of the licences and cancellation of others.
The oil exploration exercise is divided in six blocks with licences issued to foreign companies Rak Gas, Hamra-Surestream joint venture, Pacific Oil and Sacoil. n