23 November 2016 Last updated at: 10:21 AM

UK eyeing Malawi oil deposits

… supporting oil exploration on Lake Malawi

Despite Malawians expressing discomfort on exploration of oil deposits in the country, the British government has spent thousands of pounds of aid money aimed at supporting Malawi’s efforts to explore Lake Malawi for oil

According to international media reports, the UK has spent nearly £30,000 of overseas development assistance funding on a project supporting Malawi government in developing the country’s oil and gas sector.

Lake Malawi

One of the oil deposits.

The money which came from the Foreign Office’s prosperity fund, follows a new policy by the UK to make sure that aid spending serves both “the poorest people in the world and the taxpayers who foot the bill”.

Reacting to the development, the shadow international development secretary in the UK Kate Osamor said the project raised “real concerns” about development spending being geared towards boosting British trade, potentially at the expense of sensitive habitats.

“The issue isn’t the amount of money – £30,000 isn’t a lot in aid terms, although of course it’s a lot to the average person in Malawi. But using money that’s supposedly for sustainable development to encourage oil exploration seems highly questionable,” said Osamor.

On his part, Malawi24 columnist Pearson Nkhoma said the UK is using its power to control the lake while leaving Malawians despondent.

Pearson Nkhoma

Nkhoma: Questions the idea of oil exploration.

“The UK is coming in as a coloniser, to continue with their monopoly since the 19th century. The UK is here in regards to what is in their best interest not what’s in the best interest of Malawi and the people who rely on Lake Malawi for a living. Millions use the lake for drinking water and fishing. The UK, through their support, want to annihilate that source. Malawians should oppose this by all means necessary. Imagine if there is any slight spillage. Let’s not forget Malawi did not benefit from Kayerekera.

“The claim that Malawi will benefit from this oil is a farce, a whitewashed means of trickery to hoodwink the public into submission. Malawi’s greatest natural resource is this body of freshwater and the UK is plotting to take that away; yet they commit to the Sustainable Development Goals. Who are they cheating? All people in Malawi use fish almost everyday as part of their meal, oil drilling will take that away. Oil exploration must be stopped,” said Nkhoma.

Malawi’s government took its first steps towards establishing an oil industry in 2011 when it issued exploration licences for six oil blocks, two of which overlap with the lake.

Among the overlapped blocks were awarded to British company, Surestream, although by May 2015 the company sold 80 percent of its stake and the operatorship to Hamra Oil Holdings, a company from the United Arab Emirates.



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