Malawi has achieved a giant step towards adherence to Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for natural resources governance whose principles require resource-rich countries to prudently manage their resources for inclusive benefit of its citizenry through economic growth, sustainable development and reduction of poverty.
His Excellency the State President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika led Malawi into joining EITI when he made a statement of intent in his 2014 Inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA), which subsequently resulted in the establishment of a Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), a committee entrusted to manage the EITI process, comprising Government officials and representatives from private sector and civil society.
The country’s unwavering commitment towards the Initiative was signalled when Government, backed by several stakeholders, officially launched Malawi’s first-ever EITI Report as well as the implementation process at an auspicious event that was held on July 25, 2017 at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Presiding over the ceremony was the newly appointed Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Honourable Aggrey Masi – MP, who commended His Excellency President Mutharika for demonstrating ‘great’ political commitment towards transparency and accountability by spearheading Malawi participation in the Initiative.
In his speech, the Minister said Government’s adherence to EITI, complemented with the enactment of the Access to Information Legislation, is a clear demonstration that Malawi is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in the extractive industry.
He also applauded those entrusted with the management of the MWEITI process, MSG, for developing an effective work plan that led to milestone achievements, among them, the successful lodging of an application for EITI candidature status for Malawi and setting up of a functional EITI Secretariat.
The Minister further commended the grouping for the establishment of a clear roadmap for facilitating Beneficial Ownership Disclosure, a very important facet of the EITI process crafted to reveal real beneficiaries of proceeds from the extracted natural resources.
This new principle which was introduced into the EITI Standard in 2016 is aimed at curbing loss of revenue from extractive industries, through transfer pricing, money laundering and other financial crimes, such as financing terrorist activities, which may jeopardize the security of a country, let alone the world.
Hon. Masi said another milestone achieved through the MWEITI process is the promulgation of the Open Data Policy which obliges information holders in the extractive industries to make information accessible.
“This is another clear demonstration that Government is committed to ensure transparency and accountability in the extractive industries and it corresponds well with the recently passed Access to Information Legislation,” he said.
In conclusion, the Minister spared a word of appreciation for development partners, Germany, United Kingdom and the World Bank, who provided financial and technical support for the implementation of the Initiative.
Delivering his address, the German Deputy Ambassador to Malawi Thomas Staigner congratulated Malawi for what he said is a great achievement for the country.
Staigner—Great achievement for the country
He pointed out that natural resources offer huge opportunities for social, political and economic development of a country, but if there is poor governance, the same resources become a source of corruption, environmental pollution or social conflict, ending up with the poor not benefiting from the resources generated.
“So it is pleasing to note that Malawi chose the path of committing to EITI to avert all the injustices,” he said.
Staigner said he remains happy that Germany through GIZ and the UK through the Department for International Development (DfID) were able to support Malawi’s EITI process and that the two countries have been promoting the same Initiative in other countries across the world.
Lungu—Chamber proud to be part of the EITI process
On his part, President of Malawi Chamber of Mines and Energy Dean Lungu (Engineer) commended Government for providing political will, leadership and financial resources through the various development partners for the success of EITI Report and Initiative implementation.
He also hailed Chamber’s member companies and non-members in the sector whom he said earnestly participated in many meetings and workshops that were conducted leading to the preparation of the report and implementation.
He said the Chamber fully embraces the initiative, as one of the Chamber’s objectives is to ensure good governance in the sector.
Lungu further applauded civil society representation for positively contributing to the process with constructive engagements which, he said has aided the success of the first MWEITI Report and implementation of the Initiative.
“This is a testimony of the commitment that the stakeholders have in the promotion of transparency in the extractive industry, which is key to understanding a misunderstood industry particularly when we are coming from a background where the extractive sector was perceived not to be transparent and accountable,” he said.
Lungu then joined others in thanking His Excellency the State President, Prof. Mutharika for making a bold decision to enlist Malawi as a member of the EITI and said the Chamber was proud to be part of the EITI process.
In his remarks, Chairperson for Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) Board Chair Kossam Munthali, who also seats on the MSG, described both the EITI report and MWEITI launch as historic moment to the democratization process of the country.
Munthali—A historic moment to democratization process of the country
He said by successfully implementing the EITI process and submitting its first-ever report, Malawi has taken a giant step towards breaking a vicious cycle of a suspicious, mistrust, cat and rat relationship that has existed amongst stakeholders and citizenry at large regarding extraction and utilisation of natural resources.
“This launch marks a new era, a new chapter and a new beginning in the way we advance our national agenda. With the EITI model Malawi will definitely change the way business is conducted in the extractive sector,” the activist said.
Munthali said if the mutual cooperation, understanding and more importantly respect that has been witnessed in the course of EITI exercise were to be embraced and perpetuated, Malawi will see the achievement of all its mutual goals, resulting in maximised benefits for the citizenry.
Joining EITI was part of the fulfilment of the Malawi Government reform agenda under the leadership of President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika.