Japan’s minister of foreign affairs, Yoko Kamikawa, has called for “more efforts” from Mozambique to improve and maintain the security situation in Cabo Delgado, where Japanese companies have an interest in natural gas projects.
“Referring to the importance of the liquefied natural gas development project in Cabo Delgado province, which has been suspended due to terrorism, minister Kamikawa asked for more efforts on the part of Mozambique to improve and maintain security in the region,” reads a note released on Tuesday by the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs on the minister’s meeting in Tokyo with her Mozambican counterpart Verónica Macamo, who is visiting the country.
“The two ministers also affirmed the importance of working together on the multifaceted development that will lead to the stabilisation of Cabo Delgado province and the growth of the northern region as a whole,” the final statement said, adding that the government of Japan is willing to support a common agenda to this end.
It recalls that Japanese companies are involved in the Mozambique LNG project, led by TotalEnergies, estimated at US$20 billion (€18.3 billion), but which was suspended due to the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, with the French multinational admitting, however, that it will resume at the beginning of next year.
“Its geographical location positions the project well to respond to the needs of the Atlantic and Asia-Pacific markets, as well as exploiting the growing energy demands of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent,” explains TotalEnergies about Mozambique LNG.
The province of Cabo Delgado has been facing an armed insurgency for six years, with some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State, which has led to a military response since July 2021, with support from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), liberating districts near the gas projects.
The conflict has already displaced a million people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and caused around 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.
On 22 November, Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi called for “decisions” on the capacity of the Armed Forces in Cabo Delgado to respond, namely with reservists, in view of the planned withdrawal of foreign forces supporting the fight against terrorist groups on the ground.
“Concrete decisions on the capacity of the Armed Forces to respond to the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado in the period after the withdrawal of friendly forces from SAMIM [the SADC mission in Mozambique] and Rwanda,” asked Nyusi, at the opening of the XXIV coordinating council of the ministry of national defence.
“To this end, your reflection should also assess how best to capitalise on the wealth of reservists, committing them directly or indirectly to various missions for the defence of our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And the current reality justifies it,” he added.
Last August, the SADC summit approved the extension of the mission in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, for 12 months, until July next year. Last July, an assessment mission proposed the complete withdrawal of SAMIM troops in Cabo Delgado by July 2024, noting that the situation in the province “is now calm”, although risks remain.
In its recommendations, the assessment mission advises the gradual start of SAMIM’s withdrawal from 15 December this year and the completion of the withdrawal on 15 July 2024, i.e. one day before the end of the extension decided on Tuesday last week by the SADC troika.
In addition to SAMIM and the Mozambican government forces, Rwandan troops are fighting the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, operating on the perimeter of the area where the natural gas projects in the Rovuma basin are located.