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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 9th July 2020

Mozambique's militants target mega gas project

Blue Lines

In a bid to grab attention amid the global pandemic, the Islamist insurgents in the Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique are edging towards the site of the country's planned giant gas export plant, Africa's biggest investment project. The latest attack, an ambush, killed eight people in a truck owned by Fenix construction services working alongside France's Total, which is arranging some $16 billion of financing for the gas project. Total's section of the project, some 40 kilometres out to sea, will be easier to defend in the longer run.

Like others, this attack has been claimed by Islamic State Central African Province but is the first to target oil and gas industry contractors, and will ramp up pressure on President Filipe Nyusi's government. Nysusi hails from this region himself. It will draw more political attention. The crisis was due for discussion at the next SADC regional summit in September but that may be too long to wait.

Nyusi has downplayed the crisis, hiring the Dyck Advisory Group, a private security firm, despite South Africa, the United States and Portugal all offering military support. Nyusi's officials are yet to engage marginalised groups in Cabo Delgado and neighbouring areas, where there are multiple grievances against the Maputo government that are the basis of the insurgency. Activists say there can be no solely military solution and the government's current strategy risks playing into the insurgents' hands and ignoring legitimate complaints from local communities.