Doing nothing on oil is not an option either for Malawi

In my entry this week, readers please allow me first to express my sincere appreciation to all those who have contributed immensely to the growth of Nyasa Times publication as we are about to chalk 10 years of online publishing news. It has not been an easy journey.Loose cannon

An international accolade, Beffta award which I received in London at the weekend as a ‘journalist of the year’ and also Nyasa Times winning the award at Beffta, is worthy to pay tribute to the great efforts made by various people who showcased their writing skills and brevity for a common purpose during the baby steps of Nyasa Times some 10 years ago. These include Nyasa Times CEO, Edgar Chibaka, pioneer columnists Tom ‘Ambuje’ Likambale, Bright Malopa, Dr David Mkwambisi, Dr Greenwell Matchaya, Rhodrick Kalumpha, Andy Khumbanyiwa, Dr Fanwell Kenala Bokosi and Dr Nyakuchenya Ganda.

There will be more to be recognised during the 10th anniversary gala which is being organised and indeed ambitious programs are on the card including a Nyasa Times television – oops let me not pre-empt more.

The news team that we have in Malawi – you know them through their bylines – should also be commended for keeping the fire burning. I, however, beseech all of us not to rest on our laurels, but to continue informing – without fear or favour .

More about us for another day.

Now, on the topic of this article. Oil!

When the Peter Mutharika government announced in November last year of the cancellation of oil exploration licenses the predecessor Joyce Banda administration had given to five companies pending review, it promised that the results would be out within months.

But twelve months down the line since the moratorium was issued the nation and the companies involved—Sac Oil (block 1), Surestream (blocks 2 and 3), Rak Gas (Blocks 4 and 5), Pacific (Block 6) and Hamra Oil (bought 51% into Surestream) —are still waiting.

Along the way, government asked Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale to give his opinion after it was alleged that the three companies involved belong to the same people.

That opinion which gave various permutations to entangle the apparent ownership problem was given in April this year and the Principal Secretary for Energy and Mining Ben Botolo, while confirming getting the AG thoughts on the matter said then that within a week government would come up with a position on the way forward to let the exploration and investment take off in earnest.

Once again, the week has turned into months and here we are, there is silence from government. It is now a year since the review was ordered.

All the Malawian people have heard are sporadic messages from government that the matter is being dealt with.

It is completely in order for a new government to take a second look at some of the decisions of its predecessors as priorities, based on ones manifesto, differ.

The DPP government was perfectly within its rights to demand a review of the decision of the PP government.

Yet this should not take forever. As a nation we must remember and appreciate the urgency of the matter.

Oil is a scarce but strategic resource in the world economic affairs. The liquid has changed the fortunes and development trajectory of nations. It is the difference between poor countries and rich countries.

The bottom line is if we have it below Lake Malawi or anywhere else, then we must bring it out. That act alone would change the fortunes of this nation.

At the moment the world prices of oil have gone down that oil companies are losing money. Some countries have even suspended exploration and drilling.

It is hardly the best time to attract any investment into the sector.

It is common knowledge that the Malawi Government does not have the resources to explore and drill the oil and that it why it flouted tenders for foreign investors to come in and do the job that could change the fortunes of this nation.

So far none of them has withdrawn due to the delays and on that account, it would be safe to assume that they are still interested.

This is why the DPP government should have seen the urgency of the matter to do the needful and make a decision on the way forward.

There is need to clean up anything that might be deemed to have gone wrong but it should not take forever as doing nothing on this resource that can change the economic fortunes of this poor nation is not an option either.

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”-John F. Kennedy

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28 thoughts on “Doing nothing on oil is not an option either for Malawi”

  1. FootSoldier says:

    Doing nothing is an option for your information. Read a little bit about the McElvey Theory before you get too excited about nothing. The tiny deposits have been known as early as the late 1800’s but not acted upon because of more weighty considerations. If oil could get any nation out of poverty it should have done that to Nigerians who continue to live in abject poverty in-spite of the obvious abundance of the “liquid”.

  2. mau akuseri says:

    I congraturate you Thom and the team but I have one request to make I know it may be painful but its a fact.Please who ever is given a chance to write a column especialy to do with religion or sports or politics must try to be as nuetral as possible.I saw one unbalanced article by one called ‘Kelvin Silungwe’ who praised Bushiri simply because he supports him yet this online newspaper is read by people of different religious background and simply because Mr Silungwe likes Bushiri he wants everyone who reads this online newspaper to do likewise which is inhuman.We all have what we believe and there is no way we should be meant to stick to your ideologies be neutral and let everyone judge for him or herself otherwise keep up the good work

  3. Banda sikiza George says:

    A nice article indeed, but I would like to know the current position of the lake conflict. I am out side the the country but a malawian by nationality. continue being creativity.

  4. Sir Bob says:

    inde we should make progress on this oil business
    i dont understand what is delaying it and also lack of communication to the public on the same. Lake Malawi or any area where oil may be drilled is but a national asset and therfeore people should be informed constatnly on the developments. Sort this oil business, let them start, so we get jobs , we get money for national development

  5. A Likagwa says:

    I think the author has some sense, Malawi is talking about atrracting investors and you hold oil invetsors for one year just to make a decision what would that signal to other potential investors? its like we are a nation which cannot make decisions and investors can not be hold on ransom.

  6. Chimangeni Mapiko says:

    I congratulate Loose Cannon with this article, it is patriotism. Oil is big business and Malawi can get out of poverty circle with oil. There is need for a national pride in pursuing this resource. Dilly dallying will not help matters

  7. Phiri says:

    We should not be cowards, we must fight for our rights, Nation is built through braveness. God has given us resources to change the lives of Malawians and we are worried about our neighbors trying to steal our God given resources. Malawi has no option , Licence were advertised, tendered and issued according to the law , we want to run away from reality, it’s a catch 22 situation were we can’t cancel and restart. The reality is that Licence are already issued and if taken to court we can lose Billions.

  8. John Union says:

    I hear Co. Muamuar Gadafi refuse offers from Shell and British petroleum, borrowed money and started sucking the oil from the ground and made a lot of money from the oil his government refined unlike Nigeria which is being financially raped today. President Mutharika and the DPP government should not be exited by a meager earning to alleviate the budget and the economy for a few years. Let this permanently change the landscape of our economy and lives of Malawians

  9. Sake Chilling says:

    Comments number 6 and number 15 have said it all. The war cry now for saving the earth is “keep it in the ground,”

  10. KUzman says:

    I my opinion, our country doesn’t really have the required capacity of either managing or oversight of such an ambitious project. Our economy wont improve by its implementation but foreigners well only reap from us. Maybe we need a strong political background

  11. Phiri says:

    Once the world know that their is oil in Malawi, there ll be a lot of investors in various sectors. Malawi’s economy ll be up word and in one direction. It’s important for the Govt to allow genuine investors. The contracts were signed and there is no turning around. Any cancellation ll bring a lot of distrust in the investors. We can lose in billions in litigations .

  12. Kadakwiza says:

    As Malawi politics, oil will be a curse and not a blessing. We are talking about nepotism, greed.

  13. Issa Kabudula says:

    Mr Chiumia – while we applauds you for the Befta award, we also advise you that, the oil saga for Malawi now it is not right time.

    We can carry on with coffee, chamba, chambo, cassava, potato, peas, Nandolo and other mineral, the like of Uranium but oil – there is war behind oil. We don’t wont to suffer the oil war – we better be poor Mr Chiumia. Just yesterday Tanzania was ready for war, and we are nursing fish, the only fish in the world Chambo – leave oil alone – please ndagwila mwendo wenu.

  14. ‘Doing nothing’ is the best of all possible solutions. As people as diverse as Prince Charles, the Dali Lama, and the Pope are calling for nations to ‘keep it in the ground’, it is disheartening to hear people like yourself stating that ‘if we have it below Lake Malawi or anywhere else, we must bring it out’. Despite the grave environmental concerns of spoiling one of the planet’s largest sources of fresh water (which will soon be worth far more than oil), and despite the examples from other African nations such as Nigeria where the Niger Delta has now become one of the most polluted places on the planet due to oil spills and mismanagement, the Malawian government does not have a very good track record of equitably sharing the resources of the nation (as the ongoing Cashgate scandal should highlight). I was encouraged to read in the Nation newspaper this week that the government is looking towards solar applications to increase the electrical capacity of the country. This is the type of sustainable and forward thinking that will take Malawi far into the future, not the digging up fossil fuels which continue to cause so much damage to the planet. (For more sustainable solutions you can visit the UK Guardian’s ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/keep-it-in-the-ground)

  15. pido says:

    A Malawi tikupusa. Kikwete became quite over the boundary issue while he really knew that he is drawing oil from Lakae Malawi through Mtwara Gas project that he is operating outright. Go to Mtwara, Tanzania is drawing gas there whose oil is from lake Malawi. Be careful Malawians. These leaders particularly Matchona can connive with Tanzania and be sharing profits while you are ndwiiiiii. I bet Tanzania is getting our resources in form of gas that initialy originates from Lake Malawi. Kay zanu izo ine ndakuuzani.

  16. ChaweZi Gomes says:

    this is bullshit coming out of Thom at the time we are celebrating 10 years of Nyasatimes

    You even lie that the difference between poor and rich countries is oil???? Really? Rank me the richest nations by whatever methodology and the best oil producing countries? Come on Thom, you can do better than that? Europe, Japan, U.S. Canada etc compared to Russia, MidEast, Venenzuela, Nigeria etc – u get my point. The correlation of wealth with oil reserves is not as perfect as you suggest

  17. pussy says:

    what are the mitigation measures if it happens the beautiful lake gets spoiled… whom to blame and how will the fortune come after spoiling think about it.. we aren’t fools when we don’t comment but we are analyzing the situation here got that?

  18. Mgwazo says:

    Trust me besides the fact that all places where there are mines there has been outcries from the local community, the Malawi Government if full of corruption, making deals with foreign investors for their own benefit. How much benefit do you think the oil will bring to malawi other than a disaster to our natural fresh water admired by millions across the globe. My fellow malawians lets read between the lines and not be blinded by lies fools tell us about the economic boost the oil can bring. What has kayelekera done for Karonga?, Malawi in general?. Only a few and greedy politicians have benefited yet the mine is said to boost the country’s economy. I have always said to my fellow malawians that a lot has to change if we must see our country pull out of its impoverished state.

  19. Let’s use oil, we need forex in our country. Sun n sundy, cap macrear etc is for along time in Malawi but nothing is changing,is just potentially for those around the region. That’s my opinion

  20. Mr Pheee says:

    you are sup#6

  21. masa masina says:

    Mining oil is not a simple job like drawing water from a river. Some people are poor because they are lazy, dropped out of school because of drugs and early pregnancies. This suggest that not all poor people have the capacity to one day own an oil well and therefore benefit from mining oil. People who can benefit from mining must be hardworking, resources not people who are addicted to donor aid or free things.

  22. mukharapwiyo says:

    to hell with your oil.in africa is a curse.sudan/south sudan war,angola war,nigeria war,equatoria guniea wanton corruption,chad war,libya war the list will soon grow.consider this:if an offshore rig on lake malawi starts leaking how long will it take to seal it.i bet under these corrupt,greedy buffons the driller can seal it at any given time say after 2weeks up to 2years according to their wishes.at the end no chambo,no illala,no chintheche/cape maclear/sun n sand/nkopola/lake malawi national park,no walkers ferry,no nkula/tedzani/kapichira,no illovo sugar,no greenbelt,no(white elephant) shire zambezi waterway.Oh Great God! save us from amateurs.this wont work countryfolks

  23. mukharapwiyo says:

    to hell with your oil.in africa is a curse.sudan/south sudan war,angola war,nigeria war,equatoria guniea wanton corruption,chad war,libya war the list will soon grow.consider this:if an offshore rig on lake malawi starts leaking how long will it take to seal it.i bet under these corrupt,greedy buffons the driller can seal it at any given time say after 2weeks up to 2years according to their wishes.at the end no chambo,no illala,no chintheche/cape maclear/sun n sand/nkopola/lake malawi national park,no walkers ferry,no nkula/tedzani/kapichira,no illovo sugar,no greenbelt.Oh Great God! save us from amateurs.this wont work countryfolks

  24. mulopwana says:

    Please note that beneficiary of mining exploits are not the poor. Let the oil remain wherever it is as has been proven through Kayerekela that we were better off with the uranium underground as opposed to have it mined. Ask me what we have benefitted, nothing, so let the oil remain wherever it is until such a time when our kids will have potential to mine it. Let me repeat here. Do you know as to why the exploration was stopped? The main reason is that someone benefited and that the current incharge have not that is why the suspension. They would like to benefit too. This is why i say, MINING NEVER TO BENEFIT THE POOR BUT THE ALREADY RICH, SO NEVER MINE THE OIL, LET IT BE WHERE IT IS.
    I REST MY CASE

  25. Pheko says:

    I Dnt Think Oil Right Now Is Something To Do Coz Oil Prices Is So Low And Wen C Economies Who Depended On Oil R In Problems Pano.Lets Leav The Lake As God Gav Us Tizidya Bonya Basi

  26. Mbuya says:

    Apa ndie tagwirizana….inuinu can we afford to sit phwiii with un countable problems while we potentially have oil?

  27. mapwevupwevu says:

    John F Kennedy was wrong. Shit happens!

  28. Zasha mfana wa mphasha,waziziwa? says:

    Nyasatimes TV ??? am already excited

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