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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FootSoldier
Guest

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”.

mau akuseri
Guest
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… Read more »
Banda sikiza George
Guest

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.

Phiri
Guest

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.

John Union
Guest

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

Sake Chilling
Guest

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

KUzman
Guest

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

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