By Bester Kayaye
State President Lazarus Chakwera says his government will expedite the establishment of the Malawi Mining Investment Corporation (MMIC) in order to regulate mining operations in the country.
President Chakwera made these remarks during his weekly press briefing in which he highlighted the agenda of his administration on the promotion of environmental conservation issues in Malawi.
The concept on MMIC produced by the Ministry of Mining indicates that the state owned company which will be financed by the Export Development Fund, will among other things buy gold from artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs) to ensure that they have an organized market for their products in so doing curb smuggling.
Chakwera said the local extractive sector has been crippled due to lack of a designated regulatory body to oversee and monitor processes and operations of the sector including issuance of licenses.
He said: “The extractive sector is marred by many irregularities with illegal operators acquiring mining licenses through illegal means, which is threatening our environment in one way or the other.”
“We want Malawians to be the main beneficiaries of our minerals and natural resources, and it is sudden to see our minerals such as gold being displayed on international markets but no one here is aware on how such precious minerals were exported to such destinations, which is a clear indication that as a country we have not been serious in preserving our natural resources.”
Chakwera also reassured Malawians of his administration’s commitment in establishing drastic measures in conserving environment, and promoting biodiversity.
“One of the objectives of my administration is to design, and implement comprehensive measures targeting at responding to natural disasters as well as policies complementing efforts set by various environmental stakeholders on conserving natural resources,” he said.
The President also said government is set to remove import tax on energy related materials including solar panels and related systems to ease accessibility of clean energy as well as increase industrial production.
Meanwhile, Government is putting in place a taskforce that will coordinate efforts aimed at addressing environmental issues in a multi-sectorial approach with specific targets.
The task force will include experts who specialize in issues of water management, natural resource management, environmental management, climate change, mining, local government, and financing.
It will also include perspectives from the energy sector, as at present there is a pressure on how to wean the 90% dependence on biomass in urban areas at the expense of restoration efforts.
Chakwera said it will, therefore, be within the mandate of the taskforce to come up with an action plan for developing partnerships to leverage alternative energy sources that can sustainably meet demands exponentially rather than incrementally.
“Partnerships are particularly central to the attainment of environmental targets in our pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The reason for this is that climate action means creating clean jobs, building smart cities, and increasing our use of clean renewable energy. It also means investing in public transport expansion and bike paths, retrofitting our infrastructure to be more energy efficient, and providing incentives for sustainable production.”
Minister of Forestry, Natural Resources and Environment Nancy Tembo said government is intending to intensify installation of briquettes making machines in major towns to curb rampant cutting down of trees for firewood and charcoal burning.
Tembo said a single Briquette making machine could possibly produce up to 40-thousand tons of briquettes which he reiterates will go a long way in conserving huge amounts of energy and trees simultaneously.
“As the ministry we are vigilant in coming up with drastic alternatives to charcoal which is a main source of energy amongst local families, hence we are looking at ways on how to intensify production of fire briquettes through installation of fire briquettes in country’s major cities, as mass production of these will cut lower prices of these facilities for local consumption, hence cutting out usage of charcoal”.
Tembo also said government has embarked on a bamboo farming initiative which is being imported from Indonesia, which she said will act as a replacement from pine and blue gum trees used for electricity poles.