Blantyre — Due to the huge mineral potential that Malawi has, public university colleges such as the Polytechnic, Chancellor College and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) have introduced more geoscience courses in order to produce locally trained geo personnel.
Head of Mining Engineering Department at the Polytechnic, Dr Witness Kuotcha, told Malawi News Agency (MANA) the college has introduced a Bachelor of Geological Engineering, Bachelor of Mining Engineering and Bachelor of Metallurgy and Mineral Processing Engineering.
According to Kuotcha, the programmes will ensure that the country has qualified human resources required to develop the mining sector, thus there will be no need to hire foreign expertise.
"Availability of well-trained Malawians will help the country attract the much needed foreign investors since foreign companies will be assured of getting skilled labour locally.
"With more trained Malawians in mining-related jobs, it will be possible for some individuals (local investors) to take part in mining related activities, as they will not need to hire expatriates who are quite expensive," said Kuotcha.
He further said government's commitment towards the mining sector is an important aspect that has triggered the interest in geoscience studies.
"Again the airborne geophysical survey by the government (Kauniuni) was a strong indication of government's commitment to developing the mining sector in the country. This is also evidenced by the introduction of geoscience courses by other institutions like the Polytechnic and MUST apart from Chancellor College," added Kuotcha.
The Director of Geological Survey, Dr Jaff Salima, observed that the previous policy's emphasis on agriculture as the economic base resulted in very few personnel being trained in geoscience from Chancellor College until recently when the numbers started increasing.
"Malawi was not deemed a mining country then. As such, people never preferred geosciences for fear of struggling in job searching as agriculture and other sectors were deemed more marketable," explained Salima.
The opening of Kayelekera mine in 2009 which contributed 6 per cent of the Growth Domestic Product (GDP), helped popularize the mining sector and people started developing interest in geoscience.
However, while training the geoscientist is a promising move in as far as mining is concerned, Salima added that more emphasis should be placed in infrastructure, transport, energy, incentive taxes and more that impact on mining as a sector.