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Resource Curse grips Mozambique

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The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words ‘Paris Agreement is Done’ to celebrate the Paris UN COP21 Climate Change agreement in Paris. – Picture: File image

By Ashraf Patel

Since the signing of the UN Climate Change COP Paris agreement, new iterations to ‘end fossil fuels ‘has been the clarion call. But in the context of wars and fuel inflation, there is now a major push for investments by the Northern and EU nations and Multinationals to invest significantly in oil and gas, while at the same time vigorously promoting the ‘Just Energy Transition’.

Atop of these, the new challenges of African debt and of critical minerals have compounded economic and development potential.

The great African commodity mining boom 2000-2008 added significant GDP growth and earned significant export revenue as ‘Africa Rising’ narrative drove growth and consumption, but not diversity in their economies. However, as the Global financial crisis of 2009 kicked in, many nations were ill-prepared to manage the ‘resource curse’ and sunk into stagnation and worse – new conflicts in resource rich zones as the DRC, Chad and Southern Sudan resources indeed lived to become a course.

The right of every child to an education is enshrined in Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Sustainable Development Goal 4 further reiterates the international community’s commitment to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Yet, for the 449 million children living in conflict zones globally, realising this right remains a challenge.

Armed conflict often has a devastating impact on children’s access to education in a variety of ways. In numerous conflicts, schools are attacked, looted, and used for military purposes. Students, teachers, and related education personnel are threatened, abducted, attacked, or prevented from accessing classrooms. In 2021, the UN reported a five percent increase in the number of attacks on schools and hospitals as compared to the previous year, including 475 attacks on schools, in addition to 299 verified incidents of the military use of schools by armed forces and armed groups.

Students and teachers may be specifically targeted because of their actual or perceived gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other intersectional identity factors, and their access to schools obstructed by State armed forces and non-State armed groups. In 2020 and 2021, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) reported that over 9,000 students and educators were abducted, arbitrarily arrested, injured, or killed in attacks on schools.Finally, parties,hh de facto authorities and/or occupying powers may challenge, or sometimes change, the educational curricula taught in schools they control.

Additionally, the gender impacts of military attacks on education and the gender dynamics that shape children’s safety and access to education are not well understood, monitored, or reported. The destruction and closure of schools exacerbates pre-existing gender inequalities of educational access and can have a different impact based on gender – for instance, where schooling is not co-educational, boys’ schools may be more vulnerable to attack for the purposes of recruitment, while girls and female teachers may be more vulnerable for attacks based on ideology.

Cabo Delgado– Resource Curse 2,0 Quo Vadis?

Since December 2023, the northern region of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has seen an escalation in attacks characterised by violence towards civilians and damage to houses, churches, schools, and health centres.

Increased insurgency erupted across the north of the province, with reports of non-state armed groups (NSAGs), including Islamic State Mozambique (ISM), engaging in violent confrontations with security forces in various districts.

Formerly named Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), ISM emerged in October 2017 and is referred to locally as Al-Shabaab (Club of Mozambique 04/03/2024; OCHA 17/03/2024; VOA 21/02/2024; ACLED 30/10/2023).

According to OCHA:

In December, the epicentre of intense confrontations between ISM and the Defence and Security Forces erupted in Macomia, Meluco, and Muidumbe districts, resulting in fatalities Then, between 3–5 January, a spike in violence followed in Mocimboa da Praia, triggering a new wave of displacement in the province. On 3 January, an NSAG attack on the village of Ntotwe led to two civilian deaths and the abduction of several youths As at 21 March 2024, approximately 5,800 people had been displaced from the districts of Chiure, Macomia, and Quissanga to the Metuge district, while 38,000 people had been displaced from Chiure to Chiure Sede The ISM Al Shabah claimed responsibility for attacks in the Chiure district that led to over 70 fatalities and the destruction of approximately 500 churches, homes, and public infrastructure (Club of Mozambique 05/03/2024).

The Cabo Delgado conflict in that province has sparked a complex debate with competing narratives, as activists, civic and faith-based organisations, journalists, analysts, and researchers attempt to reflect on the conflict and bring to light valuable insights into its origins; the identity of the insurgents; possible external links, support, and the role of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

The coastal areas in the North of Cabo Delgado province are home to communities that have existed for centuries on fishing income. In other words, they relied on the sea for a living. The discovery of gas deposits, petro capitalist investment model, have resulted in their relocation and loss of their source of income and way of living.

A range of research says that the root cause of the conflict is essentially structural socioeconomic exclusion, marginalisation, and poverty of the local communities and governance. who see no potential gains from the gas megaprojects. Furthermore, the spectre of resource extractives bubbles the phenomenon of multinationals MNCs and a narrow external elites disrupting rural pastoral life.

A second major root cause is what Frantz Fanon calls the ‘Pitfall of national consciousness’ – elite corruption, lack of investment in functioning regional and local government in the far regions – especially the North. In these vacuums extremist groups find fertile ground, resulting in the current conflict, death and chaos has shown, with the current halting production a sober lesson for new oil and gas production.

There is thus a need for new ‘critical conversations’, and frameworks in Southern Africa on new models of resource governance, one rooted in new incorporating climate change, gender youth employment, and substantive local economic development that contributes to industrialisation and equity, not in the current model of corporatist extractivism violence. The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) also needs updated Peer review mechanisms that are broader and incorporates resource governance, climate change, and local development metrics, peace and security and gender.

In the dystopian war-torn world, the road to equitable development and freedom is littered with potholes, with the Resource Curse an ever-present Grim reaper – ready to pounce where mega profit crude extraction are to be made. Back to the Future?

Ashraf Patel is a senior research associate at the Institute for Global Dialogue