Government must withdraw Oil drilling in Lake Malawi

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Recent media reports that Malawi government is still undecided on whether to explore oil or not in Lake Malawi.

The media reports quote the official communication from Malawi Government to World Heritage center offices in Paris, France.

The official Communication originated from the Secretary of Sports and Culture .The department of culture is the official custodian of the world heritage sites in Malawi.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi: For oil drilling?

The government suspended oil exploration licenses in Lake Malawi on 21st November, 2014. The Official press release from the secretary of energy and mining indicated that all oil licenses be put on hold. It is almost a year since the suspension of the oil exploration licenses in Lake Malawi.

Lake Malawi national Park was inscribed as a world heritage site in 1984. This is the part of Lake Malawi having outstanding universal values and natural scenic beauty. Thus the lake has over 1000 unique species of cichlids type of fish.

This rare endemism of fish species forms 10% of all fish species in the world. It is out of this background that Malawi ratified the 1972 world heritage convention in 1984. Indeed since then this part of Lake Malawi was declared a protected area by an act of Malawi Parliament.

The Lake Malawi National Park was also then declared a world heritage site. This meant the Lake belongs to the whole world and not only Malawi. The world heritage convention demands the country to conserve the outstanding universal values of the Lake Malawi National Park.

When news of oil discovery in Lake Malawi reached the world heritage Centre, a reactive mission was sent to Malawi in April, 2014. The United Nations Education and Scientific Committee (UNESCO) is the official UN body responsible for world heritage.

UNESCO recommended a withdraw of oil deals in the area overlapping Lake Malawi National Park.

A very good number of reasons on potential impact of oil exploration in Lake Malawi are outlined in the UNESCO report.

In my view I suggest the Malawi government to come out in the open and completely withdraw its ambition of drilling oil in Lake Malawi world heritage site.

The oil exploration process when it comes to drilling stage will affect the aquatic ecology of the entire Lake Malawi. The rare endemism of cichlids fish species occur due to special evolutionary processes. Drilling oil is accompanied by heavy machinery, noise and pollution which will automatically affect the marine ecosystem. This has been proven through a number of scientific studies.

Godfrey Mfiti

Godfrey Mfiti: Writes on the move to drill oil in Lake Malawi.

The drilling of oil involves release of waste water that is often too salty. Such water is lethal to aquatic biodiversity and not good for human consumption. The phobia is created by many Malawians since they have got experience on how the Uranium Mine at Kayelekela has performed on waste water from the mine.

The drilling of oil in fresh water lake requires credible companies with a detailed track record and experience in drilling oil in a fresh water Lake. The country does not have safety nets and measures to mitigate and man-made disaster in a fresh water lake. The potential of oil spills pauses a huge threat to our fresh water lake.

Lake Malawi is the origin of fresh drinking water to residents of Blantyre and most areas. This country at present is failing to provide access to clean and safe drinking water to most of its residents. It is ironic for the same country to exploit its only source of fresh water.

Tourism in Lake Malawi is one sustainable economic adventure that is being underutilized. Irrigation Agriculture has the potential to improve lives of ordinary Malawians. Over 2 million people along the Lake shore depend on this Lake directly.

Sanity must prevail, oil drilling in Lake Malawi is not a good idea. The risk is huge and benefits are minimal over a short period of time.

Apart from all these facts the country is not ready with policy and legal framework to guide the oil drilling processes.

Production sharing agreements with the local people not ready. Enforcement of regulations in the extractive industry is below international standards. Issues of transparency and accountability still unclear.

*Godfrey Mfiti is an environmental Activist and promotes conservation of Lake Malawi

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Malawi24. Email articles for publication to editor@malawi24.com

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89 Comments

  1. I appeal to all malawians to stand firm against any exploration of oil in our fresh water lake.I request to the health and environmental as well as the oppositions parties to oppose the the major disaster in it’s way.Where are all the wise ppl? Where is the common sense?…we all know the ramification if this is given the go ahead. The future generation will never forgive those who sign the doted line agreement to drill.

  2. For crying out loud…. leave the fresh water of the lake alone.Does anybody realize the repercussion of this venture.Many countries across the world would only dream of having such a gift of life and its importance.Lake malawi should be protected from pollution at any cost.This is the main source of life for all living things.The lake is the future of the nation and should be taken good care of.

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  4. Its not only about environmental degradation but we all know that its not Malawi that will benefit from that oil drilling…azungu ndi omwe azizaba oil ameneyo there is too much corruption in Malawi

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  6. koma ngati news mukumafuna kugulitsa kwambiri tangosiyani kuyilemba nkhani imeneyi momwe tikulirira panomu nde abweretsetso Vuto linaso bora all we us tingofano ndi suicide bas not drought

  7. Anthu ena mitu yawo inapenga basi kodi akuwuzani kuti Oil azipopa kuchokera kumpoto mpaka kumwera kwa lake malawi bonya ndi kale munayamba kudya nanga mukunenepera kuti nanga maiko onse akanati akhale nd maganizo owola ngati anuwo bwenzi petro akupezeka padziko pano nanga iwo nsombazo safuna kudya kapena chilengwedwe sadziwa kut angawononge koma alolera kupopa mafuta coz akudziwa kt mafuta ndi mmene achulukira magalimotomu nd dilu kowopya kuposa gold

  8. God almighty pliz bless malawi we need ur power to come upon us see wat is going with country of malawi now pliz pliz help malawi we need that oil cause u give it to us through the blessing u give before called lake malawi n u knw that it will be ours nomatter wat n i belive that with ur power malawi will going to deal with the process of oil in lake malawi thank u God for answer us our prayer #Amen

  9. Malawi should never, never, never attempt to start this project on Lake Malawi. Whether poor or rich Lake Malawi must remain as it is. Environmental degradation is what the world is fighting against currently. This is where the truth must pain us. Let us avoid carrying out on Lake Malawi any project that will have an impact on our environment. I am a poor person, but will not support environmental degradation and natural disasters. Let us bring back the Lake shore into its original setting.

  10. Drilling oil in lake Malawi is a falsehood coz their are so many Malawians who earn their living through this lake. If this happens there will be no future for us for ever and

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  12. if Petala wants that, let’s start a new MALAWI REVOLUTION! he’s now killing the already dying nation. water is more precious than oil. the world is changing to environmental friendly ways. we got sun in lower Shire y not exploit that?

  13. So my fellow Malawians, what do you really want. The country is rated amongst the poorest of nations because natural resources are not being exploited. The tourists yes enjoy the lake and people live off it but we need the country to move forward than remain in the stone age where it is right now. know the priorities of your country> mozambique came out of a civil war and immediately started utilising its natural resources look where it is and where it is going. Do we want to remain at the bottom of the ladder. I am not benefiting from the lake neither are all my folks back home. Let the drilling begin like yesterday. The lake is vast it cannot be damaged by drilling on a portion of it…

    • World Heritage my foot. Its the heritage of Malawians lets enjoy the fruits from our natural resources. Waiting for tourists to come and enjoy and tourist operators make a killing whilst Malawians suffer. We need electricity in villages, medicines in hospitals, schools, and an affordable day to day life.

    • We are poor because people are stealing money, medicines, cutting down trees,over population . If you didn’t know, countries like Nigeria where they drill oil have dozens of leaks. One leak in lake malawi and we are screwed for life. Oil spreads fast

    • i dont agree with you brother Lonjezo, there are safety measures to be put in place and contingencies should there be a spill. obviously part of it will be affected but if managed well, spills can be minimised and this can be very profitable for the nation. The thieves in government are voted by citizens then they cry foul again. It is important to have a change of leadership such that we stop bringing in the old guard and put young people with entrepreneurial experience as leaders. Govt should be accountable and its unfortunate that people do not know how much power they yield against government…We want the oil to be drilled to better our country…

      • I don’t agree Brother James. Look what happened to the Gulf of Mexico when the BP oil rig exploded. Millions of gallons of crude oil was spilt into the Gulf. It has hurt the fisheries, killed wildlife and adversely affected millions of people along the coast. With oil drilling it is not a matter of “if there is a spill” rather it is only a matter of time Until there is a spill.
        These days there is a glut of oil on the international market. More is not needed. Fresh water is becoming a more scarce resource every day. soon it will be worth more than gold.

    • I half agree. As i said, countries like Nigeria have dozens of leaks ruining there eco system, Nigeria is way richer than Malawi so i can imagine that they put measures if it spills. But those haven’t worked as much as expected. There are still leaks. Now, a country like Malawi with barely enough money to buy medicine will do better? I think not. But i totally agree when you say we should put in young people and that Malawians do not know how much power they have.

    • Obviously it will not be the Malawi Government doing the drilling. The difference with Nigeria is that they started damaging their ecosystem long time ago when technology was still in its infants. Today’s technological advancements are such that nothing is impossible. I foresee state of the art equipment capable of containing the situation and qualified staff in the field. Look at America, they even drill in front of their homes. Lets embrace this development with both hands. As long as people demand accountability, proceeds from these projects can make a big difference to Malawi. It is time we were counted not to be holding the begging bowl 365 days in a year….

  14. Ngati anyani amenewa akusowa zochita ndi zigweru zawozo,afa chinenepere Kamuzu sangalole-kubayana amuna tokha-tokha komaso kupisana zala akazi okhaokha talora nde apaso tilole kusadzadyaso-Utaka,bonya,chitomera,mbuna,afwiliri,akampango,asapuwa,agong’o,micheni,mbuna,bwana munzu,bombe,chimbenje,nkholokolo,mipasa,sanjika,nthumbule abombe ndi azizake aaaaa tivalilanapo nyawu

  15. But why do we accept someone to rule our own house? Who’s d owner of this country? I envy Bob Mugabe n Museveni who dnt v a tooth to show these dirty hearted whites.
    Mxiewww
    Lemme crunch makaka

  16. oil cant get us anywhere but the fish in the lake can be spread all over the country if u drill oil from this lake know that those who are already worthy azingolemelelabe tiyeni tizidya bonya kudikila yesu azibwela

  17. Bt who is suffering at the moment are they the pipo of france or zambia? Its malawians who are suffering just drill the oil may be thingz will change in Malawi

    • It doesn’t work like that mate. First, we have a government of thieves and chances are we won’t benefit from drilling. Second, if theres one leak, only one, we’re done and lake malawi is gone. They might be able to contain the leaks in rich countries but malawi has a crumbling economy

  18. if we cant drill the oil in lake malawi now then the mozambicans or tanzanians will steal it from us without us knowing that. let us not forget that the reason behind tanzanians claiming part of the lake was the oil although it did not officially claimed that. Oil will help stabilising this economy so whatever it takes let us drill it. agriculture wont take us anywhere on the international market but mining. the sooner our leaders realises that the better.

    • Malawi is run by corrupt heads, chances are it will only benefit a few individuals. Take Kayerekera for example! The lake has alot that it offers: fish, fresh water and tourism. An oil spill has devastating effects,rich countries have tried to contain this in many parts of the world. A spill will be catastrophic to a collapsing economy like ours! No drilling!

    • of course what ur saying is right but at the same time u have to know that this country lose alot of minerals worth millions of dollars each year through smuggling and black market. u have to know that there are amateurs who can steal that oil without us knowing nanji we are very behind interms of technology. there are risks of course but at the same time let us not undermine what oil can bring in this country. corruption is every where, nigeria cries the same thing.

    • You don’t go with a cup to drill oil. So its hard to say someone can steal oil if the infrastructure hasn’t already been set there by the government . And if someone starts dragging pipes and drills into the lake. I think someone will notice

    • even in america i tell u there are cameras that monitors their boundaries yet pipo still smuggle drugs into and out of it without the cameras noticing them. i tell u with the advanced technology pipo can steal it without us noticing.

    • Tanzanians and Mozambique will have to follow and honor international protocols and treaties on Lake Malawi. They would be doing so at owners risk.

    • of course that is the truth. i just want to give a view or concept that oil is one of the precious mineral and if we cant extract it in Lake Malawi, there is a possibility for it to be stolen

    • But, the use of oil will decrease in the coming years due to the climate change. So i think they better invest in renewable resources like solar energy. There is a lot of sun in lower shire

  19. or atasakaza nyanjayooo ndi za oil izooo America England azatibelabela ndikuzatinamiza ndi kutipasa zingongole ……chabwino apoo nje yafoyila malawi basiiiiiiiii

  20. tourist resource chani apa,,,,ma tourist amabweretsa ndalama zingati kuno?,,,,tapangani drill zimenez,,,,ma tourist or atasiya kubwera,, a malawi ndichifukwa tizingosaukilabe ndithu!!!

  21. Mmalo mopanga za Shire-Zambezi water way apa! mutionongere nyanjayi then muthawe mukakhale kunja apa! leave lake Malawi alone. Oil aliko ku middle east go drill there

  22. Zilibwino,phindu Kwa Amalawi Ndisomba Choncho Osathawisa Bonya,mafutawo Angapindule Ndiwina Wake Kwina Kwake Ngati Uranium Uja,kutifiilisa Maso Zokhala Zathu

  23. oil is money,malawi needs money,tourism cant bring that much compared to oil,the govt shud gv licence to those who know to dril in freshwaters to avoid spillage.some wanted malawi to be exporting chamba they denied we wil remain poor,but we accepted gay marriages to get globe fund,let us make our own money.

    • Yes Malawi needs money. However let us fight environmental degradation, which is more disastrous than HIV AIDS. Money is important but life must come first.

    • I think u will be surprised sooner or later coz Tanzania govt want to explore and drill oil in its part of the lake that means Mozambique Will also do that later,destroying environment is not good but we should utilise the resources that we have in this country for better of the economy,so when the leakage comes from the activities that TZ will be doing how will u make safe the waterbody that malawi has?