In eastern and southern Nigeria, there is an attitude that encapsulates resilience and purposeful progress. There, people would say: “When there is a hurdle, you overcome and move. Trying challenges? You tackle and move.” This is the spirit that Nigeria has relied upon to successfully tackle problems of insecurity in the Niger Delta that led, at some point, to a reduction in daily oil production by up to 50%. It is the same spirit that Mozambique, its regional neighbors and the entire global energy community must adopt when tackling the threat of terrorism to Mozambique’s gas industry.
The last few weeks have been arguably the most challenging to Mozambique’s nascent gas industry. The terrorist attacks on March 24 on the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, close to the Mozambique LNG project in Afungi, have led to a re-evaluation of investments by key stakeholders. Mozambique’s government has come under significant pressure to prove that they can provide adequate security needed to secure the projects and those working on them, and to local populations from terrorist attacks. Despite the government having announced a few days later that the situation is back under control, with the terrorists driven out of Palma and thousands of inhabitants evacuated to safer locations, the multi-billion-dollar Mozambique LNG program continues to be put on hold.
Mozambique’s government, under the leadership of President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, has all the means at its disposal to deliver. Their primary focus must be first to secure the lives and properties of all the people of Cabo Delgado and those who reside there. This, of course, includes giving particular attention to the multi-billion-dollar gas projects ongoing in the province. These projects are of a transformational nature and are poised to not only catapult Mozambique from a poor and low-income country to a middle-income country within a generation; they are also expected to act as a catalyst for development in the entire sub-region. The projects, it is hoped, will lead to the development of a petrochemicals industry in Mozambique that will in turn provide affordable fertilizer for agriculture, and also lead to gas-to-power developments in the sub-region. Gas developments in Mozambique are, therefore, poised to be key for the creation of millions of jobs in the country and beyond, especially in downstream projects and other industries like agriculture and power that are likely to be great beneficiaries from gas developments.
The government must therefore adopt a proactive stance in providing confidence to international investors about their safety and the safety of their investments to ensure a return to work, so that production timelines for first LNG can be kept. Most importantly, ensuring that production timelines are met will allow for Mozambicans to have access to much needed revenues for the development of their country.
Mozambique needs the support of the entire global community to tackle terrorism. No country can successfully tackle terrorism alone. This is an opportunity for the international community to truly support the development of Mozambique. Experience is key. More than just a call for resources is required to solve this problem. This is not solely a Mozambican problem. With over 125 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, Mozambique is invaluable to the energy-dependent global community and the use of gas as a transition fuel to reduce carbon emissions. The world, and not only Mozambique’s neighbors, must heed the call for support in Mozambique’s fight against terrorism.
Despite the recent attacks, and the cause for concern, Mozambique continues to offer great opportunities for investments and beyond market returns. With strong governmental will and the support of the global energy community, the country can and will return to business-as-usual. Terrorism has no place in Mozambique and will be defeated. The faster we curb it, the quicker Mozambique can overcome poverty, educate its people and build a prosperous future that its youthful population rightfully aspires to.
When Mozambique wins, we all win.