MAPUTO, 12 January 2021 – Tanzania and Mozambique are combining efforts to stamp out a cross-border insurgency that threatens gas projects worth about $60 billion.

The president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi returned to Maputo Monday after meetings with his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli in the Tanzanian capital, Dodoma.

Tanzanian and Mozambican Presidents Meet

Tanzanian and Mozambican Presidents Meet – YouTube Screenshot from TV

The two leaders are putting final touches to a joint commission on defense and security plan they hope will win the support of their peers during next week’s summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

At the August 2020 SADC summit (held virtually because of COVID-19), SADC failed to reach agreement on how to address the insecurity.

On a bilateral level, Tanzania and Mozambique last November directed their police chiefs to start joint operations to combat the insurgents who are affiliated to the Islamic State.

Over 150,000 people impacted by attacks by insurgents

Over 150,000 people impacted by attacks by insurgents – Photo Club of Mozambique

The insurgents are based in the northern Mozambican provice of Cabo Delgado, near the border with southern Tanzania.

Africa's biggest private investment

Africa’s biggest private investment – Photo International Finance Magazine

Nearly 2,500 people have been killed in the violence that has rocked the area since 2017, according to data from online databases that tracked armed violence across Africa.

No fewer than 150,000 people have been internally displaced by the fighting.

Both insurgents and government security forces have been accused of looting and burning down entire villages.

Government forces as well as insurgents deny wrongdoing.

Last August, the insurgents over-powered government forces in Cabo Delgado, forcing more than 50,000 residents to flee the violence.

Islamic Insurgents in Cabo Delgado

Islamic Insurgents in Cabo Delgado – The African Center for the Responsible Resolution of Conflicts

The insurgents were blamed last October for an attack in southern Tanzania in which more than 300 people were killed.

The insecurity has forced Total SE to announce earlier this month that it is evacuating non-essential workers from its $20 billion liquefied gas export project.

Many have hailed the project as Africa’s biggest private investment yet.

The concession on which Total SE came close to being hit by the violence late last year and early in the new year.

Source National Oil Institute of Mozambique

Source National Oil Institute of Mozambique

Total SE, ExxonMobil Corp and Eni SpA have additional projects on which they plan to invest a combined $40 billion.

The government of Mozabique says the gas projects in the area could bring in about $96 billion in revenues over the next 25 years.

Mozambique and Tanzania have blamed each other for not doing enough to prevent the armed groups from using their common borders to train, retreat, reload, launch attacks and hide from counter attacks.

The United States has offered support, including military training, to Mozambique and, according to some media reports, to Tanzania as well.

Washington, DC, is looking to help Mozambique contain the insurrection, according to a statement released Monday that cites Anthony Tata, the Policy Under-Secretary at the United States Department of Defense.

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