Mozambique’s former First Lady-turned human rights campaigner, Graça Machel, has warned that the country’s newly found mineral wealth could be a source of conflict if it does not filter down to the majority of the poverty-stricken people.
Mozambique is fast rising from being one of the world’s most impoverished countries to one of the fastest growing economies, thanks to the recently discovered vast quantities of natural gas and coal reserves.
The local media monitored by APA quoted Machel as saying that the uneven distribution of resources "is a source of political upheaval and… can lead to tensions that will be extremely difficult to manage"
Machel, who is now wife of South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela, was speaking at an African Development Bank (AfDB) meeting discussing ways to better manage hydrocarbon resources late on Thursday.
Most of the 23.4 million Mozambicans still live on as little as $1 a day.
Five years ago, Machel said Mozambique was considered "the poorest of the poor".
"Suddenly we moved from the poorest of the poor to become potentially the third producer of gas in the world and the outlook of the country changed completely overnight," she pointed out.
Mozambique has recently discovered a huge reserve of gas, as much as 100 trillion cubic feet, making it a major energy player and offering hope of prosperity to come.
If the wealth is not fairly distributed, "we are sowing seeds not even of suspicion, we are already sowing the seeds of hate," Machel warned.
The bulk of the natural gas deposits are found in the northern Rovuma basin, off the country’s poorest Cabo Delgado province.
Machel said she believed there was a high potential for social tension especially among youths because they have been excluded from national debates on handling natural resources.
"It will not be long before we begin to see people marching on streets of Maputo. It is simple – they are hungry," she warned.
Mozambique could potentially earn tens of billions of dollars from its gas revenue alone in the coming year, delegates to the meeting in Maputo heard.
Gas exports wont begin before 2018 at the very earliest.
Global mining giants, Brazil’s Vale and Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto are pouring billions of dollars to tap the unexplored natural resources.
Source African Press Agency
African News from NetNewsPublisher.com