Malawi President Joyce Banda has said it intends to investigate the awarding last year of an oil exploration license to UK based Surestream Petroleum Limited. Addressing the press on Sunday, Banda said government was interested with media reports that suggested that there were kick backs involved before issuing the license. “We have heard that there were underhand dealings in this contract so we would like to find out the truth,” she told the press. “I am not sure if there was any bidding.”
In response to a question as to whether the Malawi/Tanzania border issue was triggered by news of the potential existence of hydrocarbons on Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake, the Malawi leader said she considered the Malawi/Tanzania border issue a separate one from the Lake Malawi oil issue since Tanzania does not share the lake. Lake Malawi, one of the world’s fresh water bodies, has 500 fish species endemic to the lake including the country’s famed ‘Chambo”.
The fishing sector contributes 4 per cent of the small landlocked southern African nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector employs 30, 000 fishermen and supports 150, 000 livelihoods in households and communities.
Surestream currently operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. It contributes US$100, 000 per year as social services to the local population. Reports indicate that other companies that had applied for exploration and oil production on the northern and eastern tip of the lake where the African Rift Valley is deep on the lake include Lonro, Sinkara and Tullow Oil.