Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Atupele Muluzi, has been in UK last week on official business and visited Westminster at the House of Commons and House of Lords to lobby and mobilise support for Malawi, particularly for the energy sector.
Speaking in interview with Nyasa Times from London, the minister described his tour as “extremely successful”.
During his visit to Westminster where he met parliamentary committee on Malawi desk as well as holding discussions with Lord Steel and Lord McConnel, Muluzi spoke of cementing development partnerships founded on mutual respect, saying the Malawi/Scotland Partnership is a very good model and has delivered on tangible results including in areas like health and education.
He also spoke about the importance of twinning developed and developing countries based on mutual respect, benefits and development.
Muluzi welcomed his focus on unlocking some barriers including reviewing the current UK visa application system which he has argued is “problematic” especially for the Malawian private sector to engage with their counterparts.
However, at the same time, he stated that he understood efforts to ensure there is “credibility in the system” but said this must be balanced with efforts to make the system “fit for purpose.”
According to Muluzi, Malawi’s vision is that the southern African country would like to move from a predominantly producing to an exporting country.
He mentioned that under the leadership of President Arthur Peter Mutharika that vision is being achieved in that leadership is very much about delivery.
The minister illustrated the things that he intends to deliver in his ministry in particular the doubling the energy generation capacity in the next five years and increasing access to electricity from 9% to at least 30% in the next 10-15 years.
He appealed for support in the area and informed the British government that Malawi’s sole electricity provider Escom lost 35 percent of its power after shutting down two of its five power stations located on Shire River following the floods.
The floods left a high volume of trash, silt and huge logs which have choked the water entry points of the machines, causing massive power outages across Malawi.
Muluzi also said his ministry intends to grow the mining sector in “an environmentally sustainable way” to at least contribute more than 20% of GDP,
Mining used to cater for a meagre 3% to Malawi’s Gross Domestic Product but the contribution leap-frogged to 10% of GDP when the Kayelekera uranium Mine of Paladin went on stream.
Muluzi highlighted that his ministry is actually one of the key engines for growth but also mentioned that changing shift from rhetoric to delivery and results will take time.
“This is why grooming a robust generation of leaders will be important,” pointed out Muluzi.
He sought more partnerships and exchange of ideas on how to do this with the UK.
The Malawi Government is pursuing the reforms in the minerals sector under the auspices of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project, which is being financed by the World Bank’s International Development Association and the European Union.
The activities under the project include institutional and governance strengthening, long and short term capacity building, updating of the geological data base, acquisition of high density airborne geophysical data, updating geological maps, modernising the mineral cadastre and setting up a geo-data centre for ease of data access.
During the meetings which he was accompanied by Malawi High Commissioner, Benard Sande, issues of massive corruption scandal the cashgate was also tackled and Muluzi acknowledge that this is “a very serious problem” and flagged efforts being done to address it.
He said cashgate exposed the weaknesses in accountability and transparency systems and institutions require support urgently through twinning, mentoring and learning from others.
“W e take responsibility for wanting to change or reform systems and we are keen to be held accountable for this,” said Muluzi.
He said focus should be on building capacity of government but as a means to an end which is improved service delivery.
Other meeting Muluzi had were with DFID and investors in energy sector.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :