Amid energy crisis, EU gives gas-rich Mozambique’s security big boost
The European Union is planning a five-fold increase in financial support to 2024 for the mission of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) in Mozambique, according to an internal EU document, as Islamist attacks threaten gas projects meant to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian energy.
The SADC mission — a bloc of 16 African nations of which half a dozen sent troops to gas-rich Mozambique — is expected to be extended for six or twelve months at a SADC summit later this week. The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s de facto foreign ministry, recommended 15 million euros of EU funding by 2024 for the mission, but this proposal needs the backing of all 27 EU governments. The fresh EU support would be limited to “equipment not designed to deliver lethal force,” including radars, mine detectors, boats and medical supplies, the EU document said, in spite of SADC’s needs for lethal material. The EU is also supporting the training of Mozambique military forces through its own defense mission in the country.
The energy squeeze due to the Ukraine war has added impetus to Europe’s scramble for gas off Mozambique’s northern coast, where Western oil firms are planning to build a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. Brussels fears that without support for the military interventions, Mozambique may again lose control of its restive north. The move also comes as the West seeks to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the southern African nation, three years after Russian private military firm Wagner withdrew most of its forces following a string of defeats by Islamist militants. The funding is particularly meant to discourage local authorities from seeking help again from Russia, or from China.
Mozambique has been grappling with militants linked to the Islamic State in its northernmost gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, near LNG projects worth billions of dollars. French oil giant Total is leading an international consortium to extract gas off north Mozambique’s shores and liquefy it at an LNG plant under construction, with plans to start LNG exports to Europe and Asia in 2024. Other major oil firms, including Italy’s ENI and US giant ExxonMobil are also operating in the region. Mozambique has the third largest proven gas reserves in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria.