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Exit tobacco, enter mining

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Barely two weeks after shocking tobacco diehards when he described the ‘green gold’ as a dying crop, President Lazarus Chakwera Sunday breathed some hope in the country’s citizens when he told them that Malawi is a mineral rich nation.

The President was speaking in Lilongwe when he addressed the nation on plans the Tonse Administration has to restructure the economy which has for many years remained agro-based.

His address reflected some new thinking for a sector which has performed dismally over the past years, contributing less than three percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

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Chakwera said despite Malawi being a mineral rich country, what has lacked for decades is the patriotism, leadership, discipline, organisation and collaboration to blend the natural resources buried under the country’s soil with human resources to create the developmental riches that would last and serve generations.

“With your help, cooperation and trust, we will turn our mineral

In my view, this is the only way to ensure that the minerals we have in this country are treated not like riches we have inherited from our forebears, but as riches we have borrowed from our children,” Chakwera said. capital into development capital.

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He said Malawi has more untapped minerals under its soil than meets the eye, adding that although the country’s pursuit of agro-based economic activities would continue, Malawi would 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.

He said during the June meeting of Parliament, his administration will present a bill to establish a Mining Regulatory Authority to regulate the development, management, and utilisation of Malawi’s mineral resources.

“Our next step with the National Mining Company will be to capitalise and operationalise it, which the Ministry of Mining will inform you about in due course. I am therefore directing the Ministry of Finance to begin taking steps in that direction during this upcoming financial year,” Chakwera said.

He also said already the government has operationalised the Reserve Bank of Malawi’s function as a structured market for the country’s minerals.

Among other things, the central bank will be buying gold from artisanal miners as mandated by the RBM Act of 2018.

Meanwhile, economist Betchani Tchereni Sunday said that at the point Malawi has reached, it needs diversification away from agrarian activities, and that one hopes that it will be mining only.

“Learning from the challenges the mining industry has faced in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the successes in Botswana and Ghana, it is important to have a regulatory body for the mining sector to look at the totality of factors affecting the sector.

“If politics is not allowed to distort the direction of the industry and we bring in more value addition, this sector is a big and huge changer. This industry will spiral growth, poverty alleviation and transform our country within the Vision 2063 agenda,” Tchereni said.

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