Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi has called on Western energy companies to resume work in Cabo Delgado Province, saying security has improved around the town of Palma. But clashes are continuing between federal forces and other African allies against Islamist militants.
Addressing the Mozambique Gas & Energy Summit in Maputo Wednesday, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi assured foreign investors the security situation in troubled northern Cabo Delgado Province had improved.
He said locals were returning to the town of Palma and other areas they had abandoned because of terrorist attacks.
Nyusi urged Western energy companies to do the same. He said the success in combating the terrorists in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Palma improved stability since the attacks on the town of Palma.
But insurgent attacks last week spread to Mozambique’s northern Nampula Province.
Authorities said the militants attacked several villages, beheaded six Mozambicans, killed an Italian nun, abducted three people and torched scores of homes.
The Islamist militants are linked to Islamic State and call themselves al-Shabab, though they have no direct connection to the Somali militant group by the same name.
In March 2021, France’s Total Energies halted exploration of a major gas field and a $20 billion plant in northern Mozambique after Islamist militants’ attacks.
There was no immediate response from the energy companies to Nyusi’s call to return.
Total Energies’ CEO said in April the company did not expect to resume work in Mozambique, which has Africa’s third largest-known gas reserves, until 2023.
Cabo Delgado Province has suffered increasingly violent attacks by the insurgents since 2017, many targeting towns and communities near the gas project.
Critics blame the project for stoking the insurgency by not investing enough to develop the impoverished region.
The conflict has left thousands of Mozambicans dead and more than 800,000 displaced.
Troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community have helped retake towns from the insurgents but have not been able to contain or end the fighting.