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Total Calls for Development Foundation to Cabo Delgado

Total Calls for Development Foundation to Cabo Delgado

“Mozambique LNG shall establish a dedicated Foundation for the implementation a socio-economic development program covering the whole territory of the Cabo Delgado province, as part of a consistent and sustainable development strategy,” is the recommendation of Jean-Christophe Rufin’s human rights report published today by TotalEnergies. “Mozambique LNG” is TotalEnergies and its Area 1 partners.

“Large territories [of Cabo Delgado] are controlled for their benefit by the regime’s officials,” Rufin declares. And, without saying so explicitly, he makes clear that those officials must be kept at arm’s length from the new foundation.

There will be “a supervisory board of the Foundation, comprising both representatives of Mozambique LNG and personalities from the civil society,” which clearly excludes government and Frelimo. The foundation would be under a new Mozambique LNG “Cooperation and Development” department. It would coordinate with four groups, starting with UN agencies, international NGOs operating in the area, bilateral and multilateral donors and lenders, and only last local, provincial and national government.

Because of the spreading insurgency, on 26 April 2021 TotalEnergies withdrew all project personnel from the Afungi site and declared force majeure. Then Rwandan forces created security in the gas project area. In December 2022 Patrick Pouyanné, TotalEnergies chair, commissioned Jean-Christophe Rufin with an independent mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the province of Cabo Delgado, which would determine if the gas project could resume.

Three documents were released today (23 May): a press statement, Jean-Christophe Rufin’s Report and Appendix, and his Action Plan

“The lack of public services in the province of Cabo Delgado is a historic reality. This disrepair has caused a lack of trust in the State and its representatives in these areas, and has been accompanied by a weakness in the rule of law. Many abuses committed by the armed forces and the police are regularly reported but rarely result in sanctions.

Large territories are controlled for their benefit by the regime’s officials. The populations in these areas are accustomed to not only expecting nothing from the State but to fearing its intervention.”

The report “highlights that the rebellion in Cabo Delgado cannot be reduced to foreign contamination’, i.e., to an import from Tanzania and/or East Congo, with possible remote financing.

The participation of local elements is undeniable; it is rooted in strong inequalities as well as in the underdevelopment of the area. The events themselves confirm this: the taking of important cities could only be achieved by a combination of external attacks and local sympathy.

This is important because, while it is difficult, if not impossible, to influence external factors, actions in favour of local populations are an undeniable way to reduce their propensity to support violent rebellions.”

Rufin reports that Rwandan troops have established relative security in the Palma and Mocimboa da Praia zone, by pushing the insurgents inland toward Mueda and southwest to Macomia and Montepuez. Some displaced people are returning to the two gas districts.

Looking at the recent history, Run notes that “until Mozambique LNG took over the project in September 2019, Anadarko’s interaction with civilian populations outside the DUAT was very limited.

With a primarily defensive and securitydesign, the Texas-based company was considering the construction of three levels of fencing around its camp. In practice, its contact with the local environment was limited to the five communities neighbouring the project and negotiating with them the conditions for the resettlement of the populations affected by the allocation of the DUAT.”

Over the past year, TotalEnergies have established a set of projects outside the DUAT (their land concession) and along the Palma-Mocimboa road. These support the re-establishment of trade, small business, agriculture and fishing. But the report admits “all these actions are more affected by security concerns than by a true development logic.”

It argues that it is essential to “take into account the long-term needs in the north-eastern Cabo Delgado area and move away from the security logic which, until now, has aligned programs with the concentrated circles drawn to ensure the security of the Afungi site. … A real development strategy should be based on the interests of the population and not exclusively on those of the project, even if these interests, when they contribute to peace, can converge because they promote regional stability.”

More actions are needed to compensate people who have been displaced by the gas project, but the new foundation must deal with all of Cabo Delgado so the whole province feels it benefits from the gas. The aim of these programs is to improve the living conditions of people now, without waiting for the arrival of income from the gas.

The report raises two specific concerns. One is the base of 600 Mozambican solders at the Afungi camps, which should be ended. The other is the role of Sunshine Nuts, which is developing cashew production, but which is “strongly marked by a religious tone with an evangelistic connotation.”

The foundation is to be called The Pamoja Tunaweza (“Together we will succeed” in Swahili). The foundation would start with a multi-year fund of $200mn.

Mozambique LNG is a consortium of TotalEnergies (26.5% and leader); three Indian oil companies NGOC Videsh Ltd, Bharat Petroleum, and Oil India Ltd (30% in total); the Japanese company Mitsui (20%); the Thai company PTTEP (8.5%); and the State of Mozambique (ENH 15%). 

Joseph Hanlon


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