Oil drilling in Lake Malawi will send thousands jobless

Godfrey Mfiti

Since the discovery of oil prospects in Lake Malawi the public debate on this very important issue has been avoided. Malawians only talked about the issue of oil drilling in Lake Malawi at a time when they heard about a border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over the Lake Malawi ownership. Little has been put in public domain on the negative impact of oil in fresh water Lake. Marine wildlife and aquatic ecology of any fresh water body in the world are always negatively affected by oil and gas drilling processes.

Godfrey Mfiti
Mfiti: Oil drilling will turn Malawians jobless

The world over there has been no successful oil drilling in a fresh water lake that has gone without any spillage. Lake Malawi is the most biodiversity fresh water in the world. It boasts over 1000 species of cichlids type of fish only endemic to Malawi. The Lake Malawi has only one outlet in the south the Shire River as such it has low flushing power. This verifies that any oil spillage in Lake Malawi would take years for the Lake to clean naturally.

Part of Lake Malawi where most of the special evolutionary processes occur leading to occurrence of more cichlids fish species is Lake Malawi National Park. This part is declared a protected area by Malawi Laws and a World Heritage site by United Nations Education and Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This is because Lake Malawi has Outstanding Universal Values. The UN body has since asked government of Malawi to stop oil drilling plans along the Lake Malawi National Park.

As of January, 2016 Malawi government had not given its final position on whether it will continue with oil drilling in Lake Malawi or not.

The entire Lake Malawi supports over 2million in livelihood along the lake shore. Drilling oil in Lake Malawi will render many jobless. There are a number of fishing communities along the lakeshore whose life is dependent on the presence of fish in the Lake. Government of Malawi’s sustainable development plans must include assisting these fishing villages in value addition and post-harvest handling of capture fisheries.

One fisherman with a boat employs about ten people as casual workers on daily basis. On a good catch of Usipa a boat owner can make over 1 million kwacha in a day. Around fishing villages you will find many small scale businesses operating 24 hours a day since the fishing is usually done at night. Tea room owners are mostly women who bake bread or mandasi and sell tea to fishermen for a living. Small scale hawkers in the fishing village directly depend on the fish catches.  Upon making a catch the fishermen further employs casual labor in drying and preserving the fish. All these people are directly dependent on the fish catch.  Interestingly the fishing business in this order has over the years raised families and enabled children attend school even higher education.

It is observed that most fish catch is lost through poor handling, lack of storage and processing facilities. Solar powered cooling and freezing facilities in each fishing village will improve the post-harvest fish catches.

On the other hand drilling oil in Lake Malawi may lead to loss of fish species. This phenomena is evident the world over only that water bodies affected do not have outstanding universal values like Lake Malawi.

Each fishing village along the Lake Malawi shores supports a minimum of 18,000 people and dependents. Where will these people go if the Lake is exploited for Oil?

Malawi is on top list of cheap casual labor exporters to South Africa and Europe such that other countries assume Malawi is at war or civil conflict. The mass exodus of our citizens abroad will increase once Oil is drilled in Lake Malawi. Tourism attraction will deteriorate heavily. Many in tourism industry will lose jobs. The fisheries will send many jobless as result of lower fish catches. Urbanization will grow. The majority will be trekking to major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu. Expect increased levels of crime in the cities once you drill oil in Lake Malawi.

Crude oil production has led to major climate change catastrophes around the world and as such Malawi needs to move towards clean energy.

The current UN sustainable Development Goals and world protocol demands a radical shift towards clean renewable energy, safe water access, prevention of man-made catastrophes and availability of food to our populations. Drilling oil in Lake Malawi is not a sustainable economic development.



  1. Whatever development will happen in Malawi will not improve living standard of malawians.If Government failing to give better salaries to workers how Malawians will benefit from oil drill? How many development take place in Malawi and how many Malawians benefit from that? Kayelekera was same story will see nothing up now.It is better to maintain our species of fishes in lake Malawi that benefit Malawins rather than to drill oil.

  2. Drilling OIL would be the begining of the worst Political problems Malawi’s ever gone through within & across the Border.

  3. Kodi ndinu mbadwa ya dziko la MALAWI? Kapeni ndinu wongobweramo mdzikomo? If you are not a MALAWI please pack your things and go back to your country. Musationongere dziko, I remember Dr Kamuzu Banda the first President of Malawi anakana zimenezo adobadoba amene mukuwaopa inuwa iye amawatsutsa inu mungovomera chili chonse ngati Ku school simunapiteko.Isiyeni Lake Malawi lkhale momwe ililimo.

  4. No guys oil must be drilled it will improve the malawian economy . Just imagine we will be using our drilled by malawians that means we will buy oil at a cheap price. If we buy oil at a cheap price that means the commodities will go down . everyone even the poor pipo from the village who have got nothing to do will afford to buy soap cz its cheap . Co e on malawian think before you moment

  5. Pa nthawi imeneyo, simudzayankhulanso kanthu. Zonse zizakhala mumanja mwa azungu. Ndiye mukumakondwerera zinthu za zii. Muzathamanga maliseche mukamachita umbuli wanuwo.

  6. For all the years we have been in Malawi since we were born, did we rely on oil drilling? So where is the issue of oil drilling coming from? No sense.

  7. Ppo v Malawi r gud n hardworking ppo, they work hard in order to support their families without relying any grants assistance from the gvnt as other countries does! But y the gvnt failing 2 develop?

  8. We can not drink or bath oil! The lake z doing it’s best as it z, y don’t u open more mines far there in the mountains? S A z rich coz v mines not oil! N ppo r not affected!

  9. I beg to differ with the observation that Malawi or Malawians only began to talk about the issue of oil drilling in Lake Malawi at a time when they heard about a border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania over ownership of the Lake. As for me, perhaps because of my senior citizenry, I started to hear about the presence oil and other mineral (forgotten the name) in the lake way before the present level of claims over the lake. We must understand though that claims over ownership of the lake or part thereof have been a standing issue going back many years, and explains why there are signed treaties over the same, which put to rest the disputes regarding boundaries that existed then. But when it was known that the lake is a likely source of oil, thats when the lake ownership claims resurfaced, forcing round table discussions again over the matter

  10. No oil drilling in our lake please leave Malawi….please

  11. Oil drilling wil not benefit any malawian jst lyk the kayelekera mining has been doing!!mafuta adzatengedwa ma sample kwa zaka 10 mmenemo amalawi akutikabe enawo olemera kalewo akulemerabe or else zingoyambitsa nkhondo za ziii!of which atazunzike ndi kuphedwa ndi anthu osalakwa hence loosing the tourism industry,no more chambo chimene chimanyadiridwa chija !

  12. Oil drilling wil not benefit any malawian jst lyk the kayelekera mining has been doing!!mafuta adzatengedwa ma sample kwa zaka 10 mmenemo amalawi akutikabe enawo olemera kalewo akulemerabe or else zingoyambitsa nkhondo za ziii!of which atazunzike ndi kuphedwa ndi anthu osalakwa hence loosing the tourism industry,no more chambo chimene chimanyadiridwa chija !

    1. this is so obvious, why can’t people see? in Malawi such easy riches benefit the few who hold power, the lake currently benefits multitudes of hardworking Malawians

  13. we wll drill oil 4 only ayear & make problms 4 de rest of years of malawi.wake up malawi mzungu ni munthu yayi wee!!!!

  14. George Fumani, if you are not a Malawian, why do you get involved in the issues of the people of Malawi? You need to be very pensive when commenting..

  15. Osadana ndi azungu koma asogoleli opusa ndi akuba, ngati pazakhale chilungamo kuwenga mafuta mkofunikira mdzikomuno ndi mavuto alili sure!


  17. Dont u kno that oil drilling is the better way to develop malawi? Of coz i am not malawian, bt dont be afraid of everythin we want to see malawi among of the richest countries ok!!!

    1. Are you serious? When did you last have fish as part of your meal? When was the last time you had drinking water? How many times in a week do you have fish? Do you know where that fish comes from?

    2. really what is fish compared to the economic problems we’ve faced for years??? some pple should wake up! we giv up small thngs for the greater good! thats life

    3. We will soon Start Fighting with our neighbours Tanzania whilst these Europeans are drilling and taking away our oil.They will supply us with Guns and Everything.The time the war will be coming to an end,we will hear that there is no Oil in Lake Malawi

    4. You knows nothing what you talk about.How many development took place in Malawi and how many Malawians benefit from that.Good example Kayelekera.

  18. Azungu anaunika kale kuti kumene kuli ma resources omwe iwowo angagwiritse ntchito kwawo, ndiku Africa kwa anthu akuda. Nchifukwa akulimbana ndi aluya, kumathira nkhondo chifukwa choti abe bwino mafutawo. Pajatu Africa ndi continent imodzi yolemera kwambiri pa World kumene kumapezeka ma resources opangira zinthu zosiyanasiyana, Ndiye akuyetsetsa kuti akuthireni nkhondo, iwowo aziba bwino ma resources.

  19. Kumayamba mwadya mukafuna kukomenta chifukwa njala ikukupatsani ukali opandapake kumpoto ndidzikoliti? Nanga kummwela ndidziko lakuti? Pasop!

  20. Those who will benefit oil drilling are those who are already rich and not you the poor Malawians, and above all, ntchitozo, simuzagwira inu a Malawi. Abwera eni ake kuchokera kunja, ndi amene adzawenge mafuawo. Ndiye ndikudabwa nanu enanu mukusangalala nazo kuti mudzalowa ntchito. Adzakulembeni ntchito yowenga mafuta inu, ndi ndani. Muzerezeka nazo izi. You don’t have experience to drill oil and who can employ you to drill oil. Mukumangozinamiza. Kulibe chanu ndiponso muzakhumudwa. Azungu ndi wochenjera, akufuna azabe mafutawo kumakagwiritsa ntchito kwawo. Mukumangotaya nthawi yanu pachabe kuyimbira mfiti manja.

    1. its so irritating sometimes to see that common sense is not so common. why can’t some Malawians learn from the kaliyekera mining issue? who benefitted. I think u’ve tried to clarify things but some people just lack the ability to see sense.

  21. kod mafutawo anthu mukutangwanika nawowo adzakhalapo mpaka liti komatu zotengeka ndi zilizesezo mudzawonongetsa zithu zambili m’malo mokoza zithu zomwe zikuvuta muno m’malawi zisiyen zimenezo musapange

  22. ekeVuto limene lilipo ndiloti, nkhani ya nyanja ya Malawi, ikanapita ku ICJ, that’s International Court of Justice ku Hague, bwenzi kulibe zonsezi. Komano, utsogoleri umene muli nawowu, ndi nzeru za y

  23. This is going to happen in Malawi, unless we take action NOW

    Nigeria’s oil disasters are met by silence
    The global media have had little to say on Nigeria’s latest oil spill and the hundreds of others that have destroyed so many lives

    The simple fact is that Shell and its “sisters” in the West African oil patches are rarely scrutinised except in the most egregious cases – which this one surely is – and the world seems to simply expect that the people of Nigeria should live with these sorts of occurrences because they unfortunately lack the political and media clout to do otherwise.

    Village life has been grotesquely refashioned as a result of flaring gas fumes and pipelines that sometimes run through people’s homes. Disease, birth-defects and chronic illnesses are all part and parcel of an unregulated industry that operates outside the range of global media but with the full complicity of the Nigerian government that wants nothing whatsoever to upset its unctuous cash-cow.


  24. I dont know what we call Prosperity without water to drink, no more protein from no more fish to eat, no more animals, no more bathing by the shoreline, no more tourism. No more health and nutrition. I s this prosperity!?

    1. I dont think the drilling of oil will make fish to varnish..had that been the case i dont think we could be seeing fish in those large oceans where most countries drill the oil & gas we use..Farming has earned nothing to #Malawi for 51 good years, every year people complain of hunger & Kwacha is depreciating every week; and so other alternatives need to be used thus where Oil drilling & other minerals extraction comes in..

    2. Biton Tchuwa II if there’s an oil spill. The fish will die. And so will everything else. Every place in the world where drilling has taken place there’s been a spill. Godfrey

  25. Know Malawi is coming in good position, we need oil there’s no profit in the fish it’s only rubbish business.

    1. when did you last have fish as your meal and when did you drink water last? who lied to you that fish is the rusbish business? How many times in a week do you have fish? Do you know where that fish comes from?

  26. Nde bodza limene ukunenalo. Kodi boundary ya Malawi ndi Tanzania, ukuyidziwa? Kodi kwa Songwe ku Karonga, unafikako? Muziyenda, muziwona zambiri.

  27. Apa ngati a Malawi sitinathamange nthawi ija ndi imeneyi,,, ife anthu akuda sitimaziwa mwachangu ma plan aazungu,,,, mukuganiza kuti Tanzania yangozuka basi kumati nyanja ndi yathu,,, mesa ndi azungu omwewo amene anapeza oil ndi omwe anauza Tanzania kutu ayambe kuvuta kuti nyanja ndi yao ndi cholinga chiti ife tikhale busy kumamenyana nayo uku azungu abe ka oil kamene kalipoko tikazazindikila too late atenga apita ife kumangophana no profit

  28. Nanga si zomwezi zongopasana ma u president, pomwe background ya dziko lake munthu sakuyidziwa. Or kukhala fumu munthu osadziwa background ya pa mudzi pako, zinthu zingayende bwino? Pajatu, nzeru zayekha adamvika nsima mumadzi.

  29. Stop thiz stupit idea do u know the side effect of thiz n who ganner suffer its us poor pipo stop thiz shit mr pressident wi malawian wi don’t know wat wi want with our lyf n country of us

  30. Kodi enanu mukumamvetsetsa bwinobwino? Kodi mmene ilili Malawi, ingakhale ndi zipangizo zoti akawenge mafuta? Plan imene ali nayo mukuluyu, amafuna kuti makampane aku America, ndi amene adzawenge mafuta munyanja ya Malawi. Secondly, kulimbana kwa Tanzania ndi Malawi pa nkhani yanyanja, ikubwera chifukwa choti president wanuyi, sakudziwa history ya nyanja ya Malawi kuti inayenda bwanji. That Lake was at first known as Lake Nyasa by the British. By then Malawi was under British and Malawi was known as Nyasaland and till now, the British have papers which they signed over the issues of boundaries between Malawi and Tanzania. Mwalimu Julias Nyerere by that time was the President in Tanzania and he also signed the agreements of the boundaries between Malawi and Tanzania. Ndiye vuto ndi mtsogoleri amene tili naye, kusadziwa history ya nyanjayo.

  31. Zidzayambitsa nkhondo izi, chitsanzo tili nacho. Ku Nigeria mafuta okumbidwa mu Niger Delta ndalama zake amakatukulira ku Lagos kuyisiya Niger Delta pa umphawi, as a result anthu amadandaula then Henry Oka anayambitsa MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA (MEND) limene linali gulu lothana ndi makampani okumba mafuta m’deralo.

    Nafenso a Malawi a kuno ku mpoto sitidzalola kuti mafuta okumbidwa kuno ndalama zake akatukulire pakati pena kumwera. Tikulorera nafenso kudzapanga za mtopola pa nyanjapo & sometimes tidzapanga ally ndi mataifa. Development ya pa Malawi ili one sided moti enafe zimatibowa.

  32. Tanzania ngati ikufuna Nkhondo ingonena koma naa Bonya wathu amusiye,

  33. Bola company yopanga drill idzakhale ya mw gvt osati yakunja ngati ya uranium yomwe inangotibera resource yathu

  34. Bola company yopanga drill idzakhale ya mw gvt osati yakunja ngati ya uranium yomwe inangotibera resource yathu

  35. muwawudze omwe akukakamila za oil akudzinamidzi chifukwa. choti. anthu miyandamiyanda akudalira nyanja. nde akumbe zomwe akufunazo. apindule nda angati

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