Extractive Industry seminar focuses on bridging gap that exist
The seminar which took place on Friday, November 16, 2018 was held in the institution’s main lecture theatre under the theme ‘The status and future of the Mining Industry in Malawi and Abroad,’ brought a lot of key stakeholders in mining sector including representatives from the government, corporate world and the academia.
The seminar was aimed at inspiring the students and the academic members of staff through the provision of a collaborative environment and sharing of the ideas to map the way forward in mining sector.
The event also tackled a variety of areas that are affecting mining sector in Malawi. Among others areas which were discussed were; the general overview of extractive industry in Malawi and abroad, permits and tenement procedure, challenges and opportunities in the extractive sector, current legislation framework in the extractive sector, status of rare earth project in Phalombe-Songwe-Hill project, and an update on Geological Mapping and Mineral Assessment Project in Malawi (GEMMAP)
Speaking during the seminar, The Polytechnic Principal, Professor Grant Kululanga said the presence of private sector and public sector is fundamental to reform the educational system in Malawi.
“For us to develop Malawi, we need all of us to join hands to reform the education system. Therefore, there is role which the private sector should play and what the government is continuing to play in order to promote higher education in the country,” Kululanga emphasized.
Kululanga thanked the Royal Academy of engineering from United Kingdom for funding special projects in Southern part of Africa area which are aiming at bridging the engineering skills gaps that exist between the industries and the schools of engineering.
He further added that they introduced the department of Mining Engineering at the Polytechnic after the government of Malawi wanted to diversify the country’s economy through mining to supplement agriculture.
However, Kululanga appealed to key stakeholders and international community to sponsor the mining sector and support the department of Mining Engineering at the institution.
Speaking at the same occasion, the former Minister of Mines and Natural Resources, Grain Malunga said the geology of the country helps the miners to relocate where minerals are found.
“We are guided by the geology of Malawi to go for specific areas to look into specific rocks that are associated with the minerals,” Malunga elaborated.
Malunga further outlined some of the challenges that the mining sector is currently facing. These include; poor infrastructure, few local service industries , limited skilled labour, administrative congestion related with high vacancy rate and corruption, small contracts to local companies, too much expatriate workers , unbalanced mine agreements and unfair benefit sharing.
He further added that the education system in various Universities in Malawi should be relevant to the needs of the private sector.
“We need to have a relevant education system that will produce graduates that are capable of doing things related to the extractive industry. These graduates will help us to alleviate some of the challenges that Malawi is currently facing as it is relying on foreign expatriate workers. For instance, a salary of the one expatriate worker at Kayelekela Uranium mine was equivalent to employ about seven local expatriate workers,” he said.
He urged students to have business skills mindsets as they are graduating.
“Apart from what you are learning here at the Polytechnic; you need to have business skills. As you are going out, you need to have a mentality of being employers not employees,” he advised.