10 February 2014

Tanzania Unhappy With Malawi Over Lake Bid

Photo: IPS
Local communities bordering Lake Nyasa on the Malawi, Tanzania border.

Mwanza, Tanzania — The decision by the Malawi government to proceed with oil exploration on the disputed Lake Nyasa (Malawi) has caught Tanzania by surprise.

Last month, the Malawi government invited the general public to provide feedback on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) over oil exploration on Lake Nyasa (Malawi).

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management (Environmental Affairs Department) is overseeing the hearings across Malawi.

The 500-page ESIA study is based on a proposed survey to be done by British-based company, Surestream Petroleum Company on the lake.

Tanzania, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman, Mkumbwa Ally told East African Business Week Tanzania was surprised to hear what Malawi is planning.

"We are studying the situation, but I am of the opinion that our neighbours are going against the mediation process," he said. He added that Malawi's intentions would frustrate the mediation process.

On February 2, 2014 during the 37th CCM Anniversary in Mbeya, Southern Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete touched on the dispute.

"Those living along Lake Nyasa need not to worry about their security. The dispute will be solved because it is being mediated by very respected elders," he said.

"If there is any politician who is still talking about this dispute he's just looking for cheap publicity. Chissano's mediation team will tell us the truth," Kikwete said.

In December last year, the mediation team requested for $761,017 to carry out the work. Tanzania contributed $387,337 while Malawi contributed $50,000.

Tanzania and Malawi have been in an open boundary dispute since 2012.

Malawi claims that the entire Lake Nyasa belongs to Malawi under the 1890 Heligoland Treaty while Tanzania argues that according to international law, the border between the two is in the middle of the lake.

Already, the mediation team had warned the two countries to be cautious when commenting about the dispute and obviously not to proceed with new projects on the disputed lake until the matter is concluded.

Surestream Petroleum has offices in Reading.

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