Lilongwe – President Lazarus Chakwera says Malawi’s mining sector is a sleeping giant and it is time to awaken it so that it better compliments foreign currency earnings from tobacco.
In an address to the nation early this week, President Chakwera expounded on his earlier assertion that tobacco was dying as an industry and there was need to diversify forex receipts.
In recent years, mining has contributed no more than three percent of Malawi’s GDP, and the Head of State and Government wants to change that.
President Chakwera said Malawi was mineral-rich, and the only thing that had held development of the extractive sector had been the lack of discipline and organisation to unlock its inherent value.
“Malawi has more untapped minerals under its soil than meets the eye. Although the country’s pursuit of agro-based economic activities will continue, Malawi will also pursue mining. I am, therefore, determined to kick-start that process by using mining as a catalyst for restructuring the economy. Mind you, I am not talking about spending the proceeds from mining on consumption as if the minerals in our land belong to our generation alone.
“What I am talking about is converting our mineral capital into development capital that benefits all Malawians for generations to come. What I am talking about is leveraging mining to reduce Malawi’s vulnerability to external shocks and to raise the living standards of our people,” the President said.
President Chakwera said his administration would in June table before parliament a bill to establish a Mining Regulatory Authority to regulate the development, management, and use of the country’s mineral resources.
The government has already operationalised the Reserve Bank of Malawi’s function as a structured market for the country’s minerals. Among others, the central bank will buy gold from artisanal miners as mandated by the RBM Act of 2018.
The move towards deriving greater value from minerals has met with the approval of various stakeholders.
The national co-ordinator of NGO Natural Resources Justice Network, Mr Kennedy Rashid, said the sector had potential to contribute 20 percent to the country’s GDP by 2063.
“If we continue using the existing regulations, Malawi stands to lose again. Our mining and extractive industry will remain at the mercy of the mining firms. That is why we are always happy to hear the president talk about this because this shows he is determined to turnaround the activities of this sector to ensure we reap enough from it,” he said.