Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Work it out. Jaw jaw is better than war war

From Baird Maritime 
Malawi, Tanzania in border dispute over oil and gas
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 18:06 
Raphael Mweninguwe

Tanzania fears drilling will damage marine environment
In October last year, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration awarded exploration licences to UK-based company Surestream Petroleum to search for oil and gas in Lake Malawi.
The Malawi government hopes that if oil and gas are found in Lake Malawi, the country will be able to produce its own oil and gas and do away with the rising costs of fuel on the market.
But recently, the Malawi Government received word from the Tanzanian government to halt all oil and gas exploration activities because “Lake Malawi does not belong to Malawi”.

So we have to neighbours arguing over mineral resources. Malawi new that this would be contentious and went ahead anyway, surely they new how Tanzania would react. 

View Lake Malawi in a larger map
Malawi borders Tanzania to the East and North East by Lake Malawi and Songwe River to the North. Tanzania calls Lake Malawi, Lake Nyasa.
During the colonial period, Malawi was called Nyasaland and the lake was called Nyasa. Lake Malawi is Africa’s third largest fresh water lake and supports over a million people in Malawi either directly or indirectly.

I  hope that in the rush to get in to the oil business that Malawi considered the possible negative impacts on the million or so inhabitants that live there. A significant oil spill could be devastating.
Tanzania has said that the issue of who owns the lake must be resolved first before any activity is done on it.
“Malawi claims that the whole lake belongs to the country according to colonial boundaries… But our stated position is that half of the lake belongs to Tanzania,” said Assah Mwambene, a spokesman for Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry.
The Malawi government awarded Surestream Petroleum licences for blocks two and three in the disputed lake, with a combined area of 20,000 square kilometers in the northern part of the lake.
Mwambene said Tanzania had told Malawi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mganda Chiume that continuing with the exploration while the issue of borders has not been resolved would undermine their ongoing talks between the two nations.

Sorting out sovereignty is a no brainer.
Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Bernard Membe, and his Malawian counterpart met last week to discuss the issue in Tanzania and the Malawi government has agreed talks are underway to sort out the problems.
“We told our colleagues from the Republic of Malawi that any exploration or research activities for oil and gas prospects must stop forthwith as their presence was likely to jeopardize the ongoing negotiations and pose a security threat,” said Membe.
Membe said some planes were spotted flying over Tanzania’s side of the lake conducting the oil exploration activities. But he said there was still room for negotiations over the correct borders between Malawi and Tanzania.

That is very direct language I suspect negotiations have been held and have broken down.
Malawi’s Minister of Mines Dr. Cassim Chilumpha said the Malawi government was ready to solve the disputes diplomatically and reiterated that Lake Malawi is part of Malawi.
“Everyone is aware that Lake Malawi belongs to Malawi and even history will prove to it. We have however, not exhausted all the means to sort out the issue diplomatically. We are still discussing with our colleagues in Tanzania and we hope that this issue will be sorted out soon,” he said.
The Lake Malawi dispute between the two countries has been there over 50 years. Malawi’s first president, Dr Hasting Kamuzu Banda, told Parliament in Zomba in the late 1960s that Lake Malawi is part of Malawi.

Saying something is yours doesn't make it so. This should be looked at by the UN Security Council.
The two countries have lived peacefully though for a number of years, and gas and oil is discovered in Lake Malawi, it may divide the people of the two countries.
Representatives from each nation met again on August 20, where a Joint Committee of Experts, Joint Committee of Officials and the Council of Ministers on Malawi/Tanzania Boundary failed to make any headway. They will meet once more at the end of September.

What ever is under the lake isn't going anywhere and it sure as hell isn't worth armed conflict between the two countries.
Ironically, the two countries have partnered to implement Songwe River Basin Development programme, funded through a grant African Water Facility (AWF) and new partnership for Africa's development (NEPAD). The project will take place along the border of the two countries, who will spend a combined USD7.098 million on the project's implementation.
The project’s goal is to contribute to economic growth, reduce poverty, improve health, better living conditions and enhanced food and energy security for the people in the Songwe Basin as well as economic development of the two countries.
Cooperation is better than conflict I would have thought they might have worked that out.

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