Published On: Tue, Jul 5th, 2016

Mozambique defies rebellion to lure investors



MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – MOZAMBIQUE is undeterred by the renewed banditry by members of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) in its resolve to lure more investors to tap into the country’s vast oil and gas fields.

The Southern African country is positioning itself to be an economic powerhouse in the coming decades with investments in the oil and gas sector expected to top a whopping US$35 billion (about R525 billion) by year 2035.

The natural gas industry is projected to create more than 700 000 jobs by 2035.

Minister of Industry and Trade, Ernesto Max Tonela, believes the country has immense potential owing to its enormous reserves hence the importance of making the atmosphere conducive to prospective investors.

“Mozambique is blessed with such natural resources that can always be utilised towards the benefit of our country and the entire region (Southern African Development Community),” Tonela said recently.

The country’s National Director of Energy, Pascoal Bacela, concurred arguing the country was still rising to provide the much needed resources not only to local industry, but for exportation regionally and internationally, with potential to generate billions in foreign currency.

It is in that regard the government is making frantic efforts to engage the rebels and resolve the political stalemate.

Renamo, whose members are aggrieved by the outcome of the 2015 general elections where they lost to the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo), has upped its attacks on civilians, mainly Malawians passing through the country as well as targeting businesses.

To date, the rebels have killed dozens of civilians and distabilised peace along borders with neighbouring countries including Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Recently, the Mozambican government deployed soldiers to safeguard investments and civilians.

Troops are also arranging convoys to guard vehicles transporting key cargo.

Malawi Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Rejoice Shumba, hailed Mozambique’s initiative to deploy troops to protect haulage trucks, among them fuel tankers, which ferry the commodity to Malawi.

Mozambique acts as an enabler to landlocked countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Zimbabwe, which benefit from the country’s road links to its seaport of Beira.

“Mozambique agreed to our proposal that our trucks which transport Malawi’s exports and imports should be guarded by the military. The Mozambican troops are providing security,” Shumba said recently.

The military deployment to safeguard convoys follows recent attacks by Renamo on five Malawian vehicles. Three of the vehicles were tankers while two others were private cargo trucks. The insurgents set the vehicles on fire.

Despite security concerns posed by the Renamo rebels, Mozambique recently hosted a successful conference for Southern Africa’s Energy and Infrastructure Summit, held in Maputo.

Energy ministers and experts drawn from Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe attended the summit held in the capital city.

“This confirms our country is enjoying the regional and global support in as far as business is concerned,” Manuelo Macchave, a local gas entrepreneur, said.

The summit also follows another encouraging Sasol energy investment of a whopping US$260 million (about R4 billion) aimed at drilling of new onshore gas and oil exploration wells.

South African-headquartered Sasol already has a significant presence in Mozambique with the latest investment aimed at expanding its natural gas operations in the country, said Sasol Exploration and Production International senior vice-president, John Sichinga.

Drilling work on the first of the 13 wells commenced in May and is scheduled to run until July.

CAJ News

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