Mozambique News Agency
The Mozambican government is optimistic about the possible outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which is taking place in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Speaking on 31 October to journalists in Glasgow, Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Goncalves said, “Mozambique is taking part in COP26 in the hope that world leaders will take decisions that drive the implementation of environmental protocols, conventions and agreements, including the Paris agreement on climate change”.
The Mozambican delegation is led by Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, representing President Filipe Nyusi.
One of the matters under discussion is the transition away from fossil fuels. Under the Paris Agreement coal should cease to be used as a fuel by 2050. Mozambique possesses major coal deposits, and just two decades ago, it was expected that coal would be a major driver of Mozambican development. However, the main company exporting coal from Mozambique, the Brazilian mining giant Vale, has announced its intention to withdraw.
There is still a market for coking coal since it is used in steel production, but to mine coking coal large amounts of cheaper thermal coal must first be removed. When the Mozambican mines opened, the thermal coal could be sold, but the market is disappearing, which means that the thermal coal will likely be left in unsightly piles, scattered around the Moatize coal basin in Tete province.
Goncalves said that Mozambique favours a “gradual transition” since it fears a chaotic impact if coal production and exports are abruptly terminated. “We want a transition in the elimination of this fuel”, he added. “Mozambique will present the challenges and ask for support from the developed countries and other cooperation partners in mitigating the effects of climate change”. He added that Mozambique will also share its own experience in dealing with natural disasters, such as floods and cyclones, which have become more damaging in recent years because of the impact of climate change.
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario has stressed that Mozambique alone will never be able to mobilise the necessary resources for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Addressing the launch of the review of Mozambique’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) on 1 November in Glasgow, the Prime Minister urged stakeholders to join the government to ensure effective implementation of the country’s NDC.
NDCs are national climate plans highlighting the actions that need to be taken in response to climate change and the contribution that each country will take for global climate action.
The Prime Minister also stressed that Mozambique is committed to diversifying its energy mix and adopting technologies that are clean and environmentally friendly such as hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy. He pointed out that Mozambique is located in the path of extreme weather events which, in recent years, have become more frequent and severe. Over the last 40 years, the country has seen 40 tropical cyclones, 20 floods and 21 droughts.
Between March and April 2019, Mozambique was struck by tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth and while it was recovering from the severe impacts of those storms it was hit by the cyclones Chalane and Eloise. “These events demonstrate an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events which affect the country nowadays,” Prime Minister Rosario stated.
These extreme weather events, he said, result from greenhouse gas emissions to which the country has made very little contribution. Nonetheless, they affect the government’s efforts to address national priorities, especially food security which is crucial for poverty reduction.
To address the impacts of climate change, Mozambique has been implementing a wide range of measures with technical and financial support from its partners.
The NDC Partnership co-chairperson, Pearnel Charles Junior, pledged to continue mobilising technical and financial support for countries such as Mozambique in their efforts to mitigate, adapt and recover from the impacts of climate changes.
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on 2 November said that Mozambique supports the Declaration on Forests and Use of Land, a commitment adopted by over a hundred countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), commit to stopping deforestation by 2030.
Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Rosario declared that Mozambique will strive to ensure, by 2030, that 62 per cent of its national energy mix comes from renewable sources, in the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“However, we acknowledge that the accomplishment of these goals will be a great challenge for Mozambique because they require suitable technologies and financial resources to ensure the mass use of clean energies,” the Prime Minister stated.
He added that the country remains committed to using the carbon market to promote sustainable forest management and stressed that the country’s candidacy to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2023-2024 would add its voice to the agenda of climate change.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed Mozambique’s commitment to work collectively with others to draw up concrete, effective, and realistic actions leading to a holistic approach to addressing climate change. “Because of the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events recorded by our country, our approach will be based on prevention, adaptation, mitigation, and the resettlement of the affected population”, he said. Mozambique was also committed to “the construction of resilient infrastructure as well as the management of water resources”.
He stressed that Mozambique alone will not be able to mobilise the necessary funds to face the impacts of climate change. He pointed out the need for “the mobilisation of more resources, easing access criteria, and technology transfer”.
Mozambique’s priority, he added, is the implementation of an energy transition programme based on a diversified energy mix with cleaner, environmentally friendly energies in coordination with the country’s development programmes. But the transition, he added, must be gradual and phased to minimize the impact on the country’s economic development. Thus, Mozambique proposes the use of natural gas as a transitional energy source on the way to greater reliance on renewables.
The Skukuza Regional Court in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province on 5 November sentenced two Mozambican rhino poachers to sixteen years in jail.
Jordan Samuel Mathonsi and Gorge Masangu were arrested on 24 February during an operation to apprehend three armed poachers in the Kruger National Park. The rangers confiscated a hunting rifle along with ammunition and two rhino horns. The third culprit escaped.
The Court sentenced the accused to three years imprisonment for trespass, one year for illegal immigration, ten years for poaching, five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm, two years for possession of unlicensed ammunition, and six years for possession of a prohibited firearm (with no serial number). Once concurrent sentences are taken into account this comes to a sentence of sixteen years each.
The South Africa Police service welcomed the sentencing and congratulated the work of the Skukuza Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit. The provincial police commissioner, Lt Gen Semakaleng Manamela, stated “I am delighted and impressed by the hard work displayed by these members. They should keep it up so that we can save and protect our endangered species”.
This was the third case in the space of a fortnight, in which South African courts sentenced Mozambican poachers to long prison terms. On 21 October the Mogwase Regional Court in North West province sentenced three Mozambican nationals, charged with killing three female rhinos, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of ammunition, and possession of six rhino horns to an effective 35 years in prison. The following day, the Skukuza regional court sentenced another three poachers, one of them a Mozambican, to prison sentences totalling 105 years for killing rhinos in the Kruger National Park.
The governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe on 27 October signed an agreement for the management of the water and ecosystems along the Buzi, Pungoe and Save Rivers which flow between the two countries.
The agreement was signed virtually by the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, and the Zimbabwean Minister of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Settlements, Jongwe Musaka.
The project will run between 2021-2024 and will be implemented by the Central Regional Water Board (Ara-Centro) and Zimbabwe’s National Water Authority (ZINWA). It has a budget of US$6 million funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
Under the project, the countries will share early-warning information to mitigate floods and droughts and take measures to conserve and restore the ecosystems for sustainable subsistence. In particular, action will be taken to deal with small-scale gold mining which currently leads to serious rivers pollution. A third component will address integrated planning regarding the ecological flow of the rivers.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Machatine said that the project is an extremely important instrument as it will enable the government to plan and implement its development projects. He stressed that “we hope to significantly reduce the large economic impact and havoc caused by the flooding of the Buzi River”.
The Italian energy company ENI has confirmed that it will start the production and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), from its floating platform off the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Cab Delgado, from mid-2022.
The Mozambican Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, gave this news at a press conference in Maputo on 5 November, held shortly after President Filipe Nyusi had granted an audience to the ENI Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi.
The floating LNG platform is under construction in a South Korean shipyard, and Tonela expected the construction to be complete by the end of this year. The platform must then be towed to the Coral South gas field in the Rovuma Basin, about 40 kilometres from the Cabo Delgado coast.
“So, there is a positive prospect that, as from the end of the first half of 2022, Mozambique will produce and export LNG”, said Tonela.
Descalzi said that the drilling of the wells in Area Four of the Rovuma Basin, from which the gas will be extracted, has already been completed. The floating LNG platform was now a reality, he added, and will be the first project to produce LNG from the natural gas reserves in Cabo Delgado. He added that he had also discussed with President Nyusi, a range of other projects including the production of bio-diesel, paints, varnishes, plastics, and glue.
ENI’s floating platform is expected to produce 3.4 million tonnes of LNG a year. All this has already been sold under a contract with the multinational petroleum company BP, valid for the next 20 years.
Unlike the onshore LNG projects, the floating platform has not been affected by the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado. The project is based on six wells drilled in waters that are around 2,000 metres deep from which the gas will be pumped to the platform. The Coral South field, discovered by ENI in May 2012, contains an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The American oil and gas giant ExxonMobil has confirmed that there has been no change of plan for its liquefied natural gas project off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The company is the operator for the onshore LNG facility using gas from offshore Area Four in the Rovuma Basin. In total, the Rovuma LNG Project is expected to cost US$30 billion to construct and will produce 15 million tonnes of LNG a year.
However, recent reports have suggested that ExxonMobil is preparing to walk away from the project due to worldwide concerns about the effects of burning hydrocarbons on global warming and questions over whether the project would ever make a return on the investment.
In particular, the “Wall Street Journal” published an article suggesting that the company’s board of directors could cancel the project. The likelihood of it taking this decision was boosted in May when three members were elected to the 12 member board on a platform of turning the company away from fossil fuels.
Despite the speculation, ExxonMobil has once again officially confirmed that there is no change in plans. The company has repeatedly postponed making its Final Investment Decision for the Rovuma LNG project, but speaking at the Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona, Senior Vice President Neil Chapman stressed “we don’t know the date (for the final investment decision) right now but there’s no change and what was reported in the US media was not correct”.
ExxonMobil and its partner the Italian energy company, ENI, are the operators in Offshore Area Four. ENI is leading the project that involves a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas platform, which is under construction in South Korea. This platform will be towed into position in the Mozambique Channel next year and will produce 3.4 million tonnes of LNG a year. Under an agreement reached in 2016, all of the LNG produced at the floating platform will be sold to BP.
The full breakdown of the companies participating in Area Four is ExxonMobil and ENI (the operators who each hold a 25 per cent stake), the China National Petroleum Corporation (20 per cent), Kogas of South Korea (10 per cent), Galp of Portugal (10 per cent), and Mozambique’s own National Hydrocarbon Company, ENH (10 per cent).
The Mozambican government and GL Energy Mocambique on 4 November in Maputo signed a concession agreement for the finance and operation of a 250 Megawatt gas fired power plant in Nacala district, on the coast of the northern province of Nampula.
The agreement was signed by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, and the Director of GL Africa Energy, Michael Kearns.
Over the next 16 months, GL Energy Mocambique will build a power plant with a 50 MW capacity. The second and third phases will add 200 MW and will be completed within 24 months.
The deal is a 30-year Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, holding the public interest in the project as well as being the off-taker of the electricity.
The plant will improve supply in a country where 40 per cent of the population has no access to reliable electricity, and the power plant will support the country’s plan to turn the region into a power hub.
The project is a key pillar of the government’s gas monetisation strategy, using liquefied natural gas (LNG) for Cabo Delgado to replace the need to use coal and diesel for generation. GL Africa Energy is a UK registered company involved in energy generation in the Great Lakes and Southern Africa.
Mozambique’s coastal shipping system remains unsustainable and on the verge of collapse, Deputy Transport Minister Manuela Rebelo admitted in an interview with the independent television station STV on 31 October.
In the recent past, the Transport Ministry enthusiastically proclaimed that coastal shipping was the way to solve key transport problems, arguing that it should be cheaper to move bulk cargo by ship along Mozambique’s 2,800 kilometres of coastline than by road. However, this optimism failed to take into account the country’s antiquated maritime regulations, notably the imposition that ships must use tugs to guide them into port.
Rebelo said coastal shipping is not flowing “because of the unnecessary but mandatory imposition to use tugboats, which are very expensive”. The situation, she added, is critical and many operators in Mozambique have decided to halt their operations.
Meanwhile, in a bid to avert the collapse of coastal shipping, the Transport Ministry has launched a drive to amend the legislation. “The legislation is under review, in order to reduce the operational costs and relaunch the activity across the country”, Rebelo said. She added that she expects the rules to be changed next year.
The Ministry of Transport is also concerned with the lack of sailors in Mozambique, which results in most maritime navigation being carried out by foreign citizens. Rebelo said that, with such a long coastline, it was difficult to understand why the country has so few sailors.
Defence Minister Jaime Neto on 29 October told reporters that security has been restored in the central provinces following the death on 11 October of Mariano Nhongo, the leader of the self-styled ‘Renamo Military Junta’.
Speaking to the press after a Maputo ceremony at which new military attaches from Spain, Germany and France were accredited, Neto declared “after the work done by the defence and security forces, and with the neutralisation of Mariano Nhongo, the security situation in the central region is tending to return to calm”.
He added that, despite Nhongo’s death, the defence forces are continuing their operations in order to eliminate any remaining threat against public security. “We believe the situation is calming down, but the defence and security forces remain on the alert”, said the Minister. “They are on the ground seeing whether there is any threat from members of the Renamo Military Junta”.
He urged all Mozambicans to reconcile and take part in the development of the country. “Those who have been creating situations of instability should reconcile with the entire Mozambican people”, he said. “The agenda of the government and the President is an agenda of development, in which all Mozambicans are called upon to participate”.
Any Mozambican who was thinking of joining movements of destabilisation such as the Military Junta should give up the idea, Neto warned. “We are all members of this family”, he said, “and there is no room for any misunderstanding between us. We have the necessary conditions for the country to move forward”.
Nhongo broke with the mainstream of Renamo in early 2019, and denounced Ossufo Momade, the leader elected at a Renamo congress in January of that year, as “a traitor”. He rejected the peace agreement that President Filipe Nyusi and Momade had signed in August 2019 and demanded that the government negotiate with him instead.
Throughout 2020 the Junta staged deadly ambushes on the main roads in Manica and Sofala provinces, but this year there have only been a couple of attacks. Nhongo’s men were drifting away, accepting the demobilisation offer from the government. When he died on 11 October, Nhongo was virtually alone.
Defence Minister Jaime Neto said on 3 November that the capacity building for defence and security units by the European Union Military Training Mission in Mozambique (EUTM-Mozambique) will improve the technical skills of the infantry, navy, and air force in the fight against terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The minister was speaking at the barracks of the marines in Catembe at the launch of EUTM-Mozambique. He stressed that, besides military operational skills, the mission will also cover human rights issues including the protection of women and children.
The mission is the first of its kind in Mozambique and will last two years. It has a budget of €16 million (US$18.5 million) which includes the supply of training equipment as well as non-lethal support material.
“Our main focus is the return of peace and security to Cabo Delgado”, said Neto, adding that “with the skills transmitted by the EU mission, the armed forces will be ready to fulfil their mission and to defend the Mozambican people and the country’s territorial integrity, at any cost, from any threat”.
At the end of the EU mission, he said, the defence forces should be better prepared to combat terrorism and violent extremism. “We believe we can depend on you and the very large experience the EU mission has in the struggle against this evil” he added.
The Portuguese Defence Minister, Herminio Maio, noted that the launch of the mission represents a very powerful bond between Mozambique and the EU.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on 26 October warned that it has only received just under US$30 million in donations for its life-saving and life-sustaining work with children and their caregivers in Mozambique.
The organisation’s 2021 Humanitarian Action for Children appeal was revised upwards in June to US$96.5 million due to escalating needs, particularly in the northern province of Cabo Delgado where islamist terrorists have wreaked untold economic damage and human misery.
However, only US$29.9 million has been received, and even when taking into account a carry-over of US$13.3 million there remains a 55 per cent funding gap. The most neglected areas are its Education programme which has a funding gap of 87 per cent, and its Child Protection programme which still needs to receive 65 per cent of its budget. Its Social Protection programme has a 62 per cent funding gap.
Among the donors to the appeal are the governments of Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The UNICEF appeal has also received funds from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Education Cannot Wait, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, the Japan National Committee for UNICEF, and the United Nation’s Central Emergency Response Fund.
UNICEF notes that people continue to be affected by insurgent attacks in the northern parts of Cabo Delgado and points out that the International Organisation of Migration estimates that in September there were 744,949 internally displaced people, of whom 52 per cent are children. UNICEF warns that “the precarious food insecurity situation is expected to continue across conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado as a result of poor access to food sources and arable land”.
It notes that the defence and security forces along with their allies from Rwanda and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) continue to clear conflict-affected areas. However, it points out that “while this resulted in increased access to some districts previously unreachable, and the clearing of known insurgent bases, attacks continue as the fractured insurgent factions engage in small-scale attacks including further north and west than previously seen”.
As the government forces have taken back control of areas, some displaced people have participated in “go-see” visits to check on their property and the local security situation. However, UNICEF warns that the situation is not yet stable enough for returns in all areas and notes warnings that “as civilians and humanitarian aid go into areas of conflict that have been deserted, targeting of civilians by insurgents is likely to increase in an attempt to access food and other supplies”.
There have been other positive developments and UNICEF highlights the approval by the Mozambican government of a three-year reconstruction plan for Cabo Delgado with a budget of US$300 million, focusing on the districts recently cleared by the security forces. This will be structured around humanitarian assistance, recovery of infrastructure, and economic and financing activities.
The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) on 25 October announced that due to limited resources it was only able to provide half rations to 925,000 people living in northern Mozambique - equivalent to only 39 per cent of the calories required.
In response to this situation, WFP is now implementing a vulnerability-based exercise for internally displaced people and host communities to better target food assistance.
People require food aid in the northern province of Cabo Delgado as a result of islamist terrorism, and WFP laments that “after two decades of peace and stability, the intensification of violence in Cabo Delgado Province threatens socio-economic progress”. Parts of Cabo Delgado have been under attack from terrorists since October 2017, forcing people from their homes and destroying livelihoods. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 745,000 people have been displaced whilst many people in the host communities also lack food.
The shortage in funding is also affecting WFP’s ability to provide nutrition, in the form of Super Cereal Plus, to children under the age of five. It is currently feeding just under four thousand children in Cabo Delgado through a blanket supplementary feeding programme to prevent moderate acute malnutrition among displaced children between the ages of six and 59 months. It points out that it would expand this programme to other districts in northern Mozambique if it had the funds.
Currently, WFP needs US$183 million to meet its funding requirements for Mozambique until the end of March 2022.
The National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) on 3 November incinerated 410 kilogrammes of the illicit drug amphetamine seized by the authorities in August in the southern city of Matola. The drugs were destroyed in Moamba district, about 60 kilometres northwest of Maputo.
SERNIC Inspector Henrique Mendes told reporters that the drugs were found in a house in the Matola neighbourhood of Fomento where the police arrested the owner of the house who is a Congolese national. “The origin of the drug is not yet known, but a probe is underway to find out the final destination, as well as the whereabouts of other people involved,” he said. The seizure, he added, was the largest confiscation of drugs in Maputo city and province this year.
Assessing the overall drug trafficking and consumption in Maputo city, Mendes pointed out that cannabis sativa, commonly known as weed, remains the most consumed drug.
The World Bank has pledged to disburse US$100 million for the Cabo Delgado Reconstruction Plan (PRCD), which represents a third of the total requirement for humanitarian assistance, the restoration of destroyed infrastructure and the resumption of financial and economic activities.
The World Bank’s country director, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, announced the commitment on 25 October in Maputo, at the PRCD monitoring and assessment meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario.
Speaking to reporters, Pswarayi-Riddihough said the World Bank funding is likely to be disbursed by January 2022 and will focus mostly on the northern districts of Cabo Delgado which have been cleared of terrorists. This will ensure access to basic services for the safe return of internally displaced people (IDPs). She added that “activities such as infrastructure reconstruction, schools and health centres, psycho-social support especially for young people, access to water and sanitation, power, and ensuring livelihood means through the distribution of agricultural tools are among the areas to be covered by this sum”.
The Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Ludovina Bernardo, stated that immediate actions require US$190 million, and that the World Bank financial support will guarantee a substantial part of these actions. However, more funds will be necessary to cover reconstruction. She added that many steps have already been taken including the reopening of roads, wells, health centres, and restoring the electricity supply.
A study published in the journal ‘Science’. led by Shane Campbell-Staton and Brian Arnold, has found that the harvesting and poaching of wildlife now occur on such a scale that they can be considered selective drivers for evolutionary adaptation.
For the authors, “understanding the evolutionary consequences of wildlife exploitation is increasingly important as harvesting becomes more efficient”.
The study notes that “the selective killing of species that bear anatomical features such as tusks and horns is the basis of a multibillion-dollar illicit wildlife trade” and that mega-herbivores are especially vulnerable to overharvesting because of their large habitat requirements, small population sizes, and long generation times.
The study points out that warfare is associated with intensified exploitation and population declines of wildlife throughout Africa, and that organised violence has long been intertwined with the ivory trade. By way of example, it investigates the effects on African savanna elephants of ivory poaching during the war of destabilisation in Mozambique.
In particular, it looks at elephants in the Gorongosa National Park where the population was decimated following the arrival of Renamo fighters supported by soldiers from apartheid South Africa. The study finds that, as the elephant population recovered following the signing of the Rome General Peace Accords in 1992, a relatively large proportion of females were born tuskless.
Looking at historical video footage and contemporary sightings, the investigators saw that the decline of the elephant population by over ninety per cent was accompanied by an increase in the frequency of tuskless females from under 18 per cent to over fifty per cent. No record of tuskless male elephants within Gorongosa National Park exists. Further exploration confirms this trait to be sex-linked and related to specific genes that generated a tuskless phenotype more likely to survive in the face of poaching.
For the authors, “this study provides evidence for rapid, poaching-mediated selection for the loss of a prominent anatomical trait in a keystone species”. It concludes that “poaching resulted in strong selection that favoured tusklessness amid a rapid population decline”.
In 1972 the elephant population in Gorongosa was estimated to be 2,542, which dropped to 242 at the end of the century. However, there is some good news. According to the Gorongosa National Park, the population now stands between 800 and a thousand.
On 4 November a consignment of 187,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Maputo from Portugal as part of the Action Plan of Health Response to the Covid-19 pandemic agreed between Portugal and Portuguese Speaking African Countries (PALOPs). This donation is enough to fully vaccinate 93,600 people.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the arrival of the vaccines, the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, pointed out that the donation will be added to 200,000 doses delivered during the previous week. He noted that these “will enable the health authorities to fully immunise many citizens”.
Machatine stressed that “we would like to encourage Mozambicans to join the vaccination drive currently underway. The third phase has been extended to mid-November following an increase in the number of people seeking to be immunised”.
The Portuguese Minister of Environment and Climate Action, Joao Fernandes, told the ceremony that he hopes the donation will play a vital role in Mozambique’s public health and ensure that an ever larger number of citizens have access to the vaccine.
He pointed out that Portugal has earmarked five per cent of its vaccines for Portuguese Speaking African Countries.
email: Mozambique News Agency