Communities in Karonga have asked government to expedite and finalize all due processes that are a precursor for oil exploration along the Lake Malawi stretch within the boundaries of the district.
Studies and tests carried out some years ago established that there are huge deposits of oil and natural gas under Lake Malawi, a situation that automatically makes Malawi an investment haven.
Few years ago under the Peoples Party administration, government gave licences to foreign companies to commence the exploration. However, the deals were deemed to have lacked transparency and were put on hold by the DPP regime pending proper investigations on the procedures that involved the initial process.
Sensing a delay in the commencement of the process, the people of Karonga have been mobilizing to get traditional leaders, civil society and religious organizations on board to push for their cause.
Karonga Community Oil and Gas Committee spokesperson, Steve Musokwe, told Nyasa Times in an interview that whatever has been happening at administrative level should not affect locals who are bound to benefit greatly from the project.
“The commencement of the exploration is crucial to the economic and social welfare of the people of Karonga. As such we do not give too much concern on whether the deals were offered dubiously or not.
“Of course our President should follow up on the anomalies but the exploration can begin as the other issues are being sorted out,” he says.
Concurring with Musokwe is Undule Mwakasungula, chair of a task force that is also pushing for the same cause.
“The people here are justified to raise such issues because continued delay is a major concern. These are the people who expected so much from the much touted Kayerekera Uranium Mine and they feel that oil and gas will compensate for the losses they incurred as a community.
As things stand now, the people of Karonga need development nothing else and government can only offer this by speeding up the process,” says Mwakasungula.
Traditional leaders, led by Paramount Chief Kyungu, believe time has come for Karonga to drive the country’s development agenda through oil and gas.
“The extractive industry is a huge economic platform. We need exploration to start so as to transform the lives of our people through revenue and profits. The social transformation of our people here and the whole country lies in these precious commodities just beneath our beautiful lake,” says Kyungu.
When government suspended the deals, it sought the position of the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale who raised concerns that the country’s laws were breached in the awarding of the deals.
The licences were awarded as follows: Block 1was given to Sac Oil in 2012, Blocks 2 and 3were originally given to Surestream Petroleum in 2011, which farmed out 51 percent share of each block to Hamra Oil in February 2014.
Blocks 4 and 5 went to RAK Gas in 2013 and the last Block was awarded to Pacific Oil and Gas in 2013.
Principal Secretary for Energy and Mining Ben Botolo said the results will be issued when all matters regarding the suspension of the licences have been resolved.
“We are going to resume the discussion,” said Botolo.
Minister of Mining and Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, told the media recently that although speed on the matter is important, government is taking time to bring in genuine deals that benefit the people of Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :