Malawi's journey to full transparency of oil, gas & mining contracts
Author: Rachel Etter-Phoya, in Goxi, Published on: 11 September 2018
"Malawi's journey to full contract transparency"
The Government of Malawi formally committed to disclose all oil, gas and mining contracts in December 2015 at a Malawi EITI stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe. At the meeting, the then Principal Secretary Ben Botolo responsible for mining said that all contracts were already available upon request at the Department of Mines. As civil society, we were quick to take government at their word. But we soon discovered that while mining contracts were easily accessible, petroleum production sharing agreements (PSAs) that had been signed just days before the 2014 elections were still not readily available...
Progress on contract transparency only came after the government became an EITI member. The Department of Mines was able to release the Kayelekera Uranium Mine agreement and a contract with Nyala Mining for a ruby project in 2016. The Malawi EITI Secretariat then gave the go ahead to publish the agreements online on the global contract repository www.resourcecontracts.org...
Now that the agreements are public, it should be easier for government regulators to enforce the rules relevant to their areas of responsibility. It also means that civil society can better understand decision making and actions around the projects and alert the regulators if something does not seem right. From the company perspective, while this might seem threatening, experiences of contract disclosure elsewhere suggest that this added engagement can actually contribute to more trusting relationships, which in turn make operations run more smoothly.
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