MALAWI.Lilongwe: Malawi’s president Lazarus Chakwera has said his country will fully turn to mining amid fears of a decline in tobacco sales, the country’s major foreign exchange earner.
In an address to his citizens on May 2, Chakwera said his government will put new measures to ensure the growth of the industry which had been neglected since the southern African country got independence from Britain in 1964.
“As a country we have issued over 250 mining licenses but we still don’t have proper mining industry to speak of”, he lamented.
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As a measure to regulate the industry President Chakwera said Malawi will have a Mining Regulatory Authority and a National Mining Company.
The country’s Parliament will facilitate the setting up of the two institutions.
The country’s central bank the Reserve Bank of Malawi will buy gold from artisanal miners.
Later in April Chakwera bemoaned the decline in sales of the to tobacco leaf amid a global anti smocking campaign. He said this when he opened the tobacco selling season in the capital Lilongwe.
Mining accounts for only 1 percent of government revenue,0.6 percent of exports,0.9 percent of Gross Domestic Produce and 0.2 percent of employment according to the Malawi Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative ( MWEITI). Overall it contributes 3 percent of the country’s economy.
Phosphates,Uranium, Limestone and coal have all been fully exploited in the southern African country.
The Australian firm Paladin has been among the notable investors in the country after opening a Uranium mine in at Kayelekera in Karonga, a northern region district on the shores of Lake Malawi.
But the country currently has deposits of bauxite, graphite, sulfides and rare earths.
A high rejection rate by tobacco buyers most of whom are multinationals has threatened the tobacco industry bringing fears on the future of one of the poorest countries in the world.