The Malawi Government last week signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Venessia Group, a Qatari company based in Doha, which will see the company investing in critical areas of development in exchange to exporting petroleum products into the country.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Doha by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and the Chairman of Venessia Petroleum Sheik Abdulaziz Bin Mohid Bin Jobar Al-Than.
Gondwe was accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Henry Chimunthu Banda and Irrigation and Water Development Minister Sidik Mia.
The Qatari investments in Malawi will be co-ordinated by Shaka Investment Limited, a local company which is the group’s representative here, according to a press release.
The deal will see the Qatar firm constructing, among other things, a National Strategic Fuel Reserve facility in the country.
Malawi has so far been running without a strategic fuel reserve and can only hold fuel that lasts 15 days, raising fears that it may see most of its activities grounded in an event that there is no fuel supply for a month.
The new fuel reserve to be constructed is believed to have the capacity to keep the nation in action for at least three months.
Shaka Investment Limited Director Dan Kamwaza said on Monday that Shiek Abdualaziz Al-Than will be visiting Malawi in the next two to three weeks to kick-start the implementation of the projects in line with the priority list discussed prior to the signing of the MOU.
He said through directly injecting petroleum products into the country, Malawi stands to register a significant cut in its oil bill as the firm will provide the commodity at reduced prices.
“The people will be coming to conduct a feasibility study on the project. These people are in a hurry to develop the country but everything will depend on the government,” said Kamwaza.
Apart from the fuel reserves, the Qatari company also intends to construct three five star hotels in the country which will give a boost to the local tourism industry.
“They are also interested in the development of Chileka and Kamuzu International Airport, improving the relationship between Air Malawi and the Qatar Airline. They also have shown some willingness in the Shire-Zambezi Waterway.
“The exact cost of the developments is not known but is a very huge sum of money but after the feasibility study everything will be made public,” said Kamwaza.
Malawi is one of the first two countries with Zimbabwe to benefit from the Qatari group’s investment drive which will spread to other countries in Africa later.