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10th Sep 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

Mozambique’s gas production to resume after foreign forces take control

Will rebuilding lay foundations for the next war?

Joseph Hanlon

Five years ago, poorly educated young men selling goods by the side of the road watched the big 4x4s drive past. Inside the cars were foreigners and people from Maputo on their way to work on the gas project. And the local young men in Mocimboa da Praia realised they would never get the promised training or jobs. And they were right. Anadarko briefed bankers that they needed skilled, experienced workers to get the job done well and quickly, so they planned to bring in 15,000 workers from the Philippines. The local young men saw no other way to get a job than to join the insurgency. The result is five destroyed district capitals.

The fortunes of war have shifted, and four of the district capitals are back in government hands. And the pressure is on – to rebuild quickly and turn these towns into showpieces. Millions of dollars will be spent. Rebuilding Mocimboa da Praia is estimated to cost $8 mn. Already agencies are putting their names on towns. UNDP (UN Development Programme) is starting in Macomia. The government’s own northern development agency, ADIN, with World Bank money and headed by dynamic minister Celso Correia, is taking Palma. UNDP said that local labour will be prioritised for jobs on the project. But how many local skilled carpenters, bricklayers, supervisors, accountants, and so on are there in Macomia or Palma? How many local companies can satisfy the bureaucracy and other requirements and certificates demanded by the World Bank and UN agencies?

Perhaps local labour can dig holes and direct traffic. But the managers and contractors will come from the companies that know how to win aid contracts. And the project managers will be paid high salaries because they are working in difficult conditions. Skilled labour will come from Maputo or abroad. Of course, Frelimo will expect a say on who gets jobs and contracts.

Shades of Mocimboa de Praia five years ago.

It could be different. What would happen if all contracts required three-quarters of the workforce to be Mwani speakers aged between 18 and 30? And that this group worked on the project for half the day and then went to school for the other half day to learn mathematics and Portuguese? And that the contractor had to provide an apprenticeship standard of training?

It would transform the war zone, giving thousands of young people jobs and training. People with a future who would not see the insurgents as their only alternative.

But of course it is a dream. Donors and their subcontractors want quick results and nice pictures to show their paymasters. Frelimo wants a big share of jobs and contracts. And when Total returns, protected by Rwandan troops in a security bubble, it will want to move as quickly as possible to sell as much gas as possible before the worsening climate emergency curbs gas sales.

Poorly educated young people sitting beside the road watching the 4x4s go by with foreigners and people from Maputo will know reconstruction does not benefit them. Again the insurgents will be the only choice. But by then embassy, aid, and contractor staff will have moved to other postings outside Mozambique. Frelimo cadres will have been promoted to jobs outside Cabo Delgado. And the profits to any Mozambican companies involved will have flown to Maputo. Of course, there will be all the rhetoric about local jobs and contracts – but that will be overtaken by the urgency of reconstruction.

Government could force thousands of real local jobs and training that would transform the war zone. But government’s goal is military victory, rapid aid-funded reconstruction, and the largest possible share of that money going to Frelimo.

Source: Mozambique News Reports & Clippings Image by Kristina Kasputienė from Pixabay


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