Part 1: Foreign Security Forces to Patrol the Strategic Mozambique Channel

The Hindustan Times recently published an article ‘France to ramp up joint patrols and operations with India‘. The article highlights; in 2020 a joint Indian-French security and surveillance operation will be conducted in the Mozambique Channel to protect their interests in the Indian Ocean whilst providing Mozambique with security support.

Since initial discoveries of major natural gas reserves off the coast of Cabo Delgado Province in 2010, Mozambique experienced an influx of foreign investors. The country is now home to the three biggest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects, contracted by the international oil firms ENI and ExxonMobil, Total and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Therefore, Mozambique’s primary foreign energy investors include France, China, Italy and the US.

The governments of India and China are also major actors in Mozambique. Recent talks between India and Mozambique have been aimed at strengthening their relationship, particularly regarding defence and counter-terrorism. China’s interests are more industry-focused. Today, not only is China Mozambique’s foremost investor, but it is also one of its main trading partners, exporting natural gas and wood products in particular, and is responsible for largescale infrastructure construction. Chinese investment in Mozambique is instrumental to both actors, with the former
showcasing its investment in the latter through continued donations worth billions of dollars.

Local communities have seen little return, repeatedly expressing anger over the eviction of villages, loss of arable land and fishing spaces to accommodate LNG operations, which have also made Cabo Delgado a hotspot for extremist groups. As regional grievances and violence escalate and international scrutiny mounts, foreign entities will increasingly find their interests aligned with addressing the aforementioned issues to preserve their ability to drill the lucrative and exclusive natural gas fields in the long-term.

The second and final part of this series about the Mozambique Channel will be published next week and include a specific focus on non-state actors and interests, crime and piracy.

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