The European Union (EU) understands that alternative clean energies and critical raw materials, such as graphite, are paths for Mozambique’s development in a global context of “green and digital growth”, it announced yesterday.
The EU will “continue to support Mozambique with a view to maximising the potential” of clean energy production, said António Gaspar, EU ambassador to Maputo, during the fourth edition of the EU-Mozambique Economic Roundtable.
The event, part of Europe Week and following the celebrations of Europe Day on May 9th, was dedicated this year to the theme, “Opportunities for the private sector in the face of ecological and social transition”.
António Gaspar added that Mozambique should, in the meantime, be able to exploit its gas reserves as a transition resource.
“The success of the ecological pact depends on access to critical raw materials for clean energy. The consumption of these materials is expected to increase fourfold in the case of graphite, one of the most abundant in northern Mozambique,” António Gaspar highlighted in a speech distributed to journalists.
Mozambique’s graphite is already being exported by mining companies to the US for processing and produces a finished natural graphite-based active anode material (AAM) which is critical for lithium-ion batteries.
“The growing demand for critical raw materials creates opportunities for Mozambique, despite the risks of simultaneously accelerating environmental devastation and aggravating climate change,” requiring care with a view to sustainable exploitation, Gaspar advanced.
“We therefore have to establish a partnership based on the sustainable exploitation of natural resources,” he added.
Still in the context of seeking balance, the EU intends to support Mozambican agriculture to comply with sustainable global standards, and to meet standards which are “a condition of access to the European market”.
“The EU-Mozambique cooperation program plans to finance in the first four years of its implementation (2021-2024) projects of up to €200 million in the area of green and digital growth,” namely in natural and ecosystem protection, ecological transformation of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, building resilient infrastructure (in the areas of renewable energy, transport, water and sanitation) and digital transformation for inclusive growth.
The EU has other support mechanisms for fixing investments – the Global Gateway strategy, launched at the sixth EU/African Union summit – but Mozambique must promote “a favourable business and investment environment”, Gaspar stressed.
The same line of reasoning was followed by Simone Santi, president of the Association of European Entrepreneurs in Mozambique (Eurocam), who pointed out examples of various obstacles to business activity.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Silvino Moreno, also attended the event.
Santi asked Minister Moreno that airport employees welcome foreign business-people “with a smile”, instead of “complicating” the arrival, compromising the success of investments.
Other space for improvement includes the reduction of bureaucracy in domestic circulation and stabilisation of laws, without “changing the rules of the game halfway through the match”, indicated Santi, stressing however that he believes in “Mozambique’s potential” . Minister Silvino Moreno said he had taken note and would seek solutions.
The minister of Trade and Industry underlined that the EU could ‘assist Mozambique” to develop “sectors with export potential” in the new context of green growth, adding that “consolidating the commercial relationship between Mozambique and the EU” as among his sector’s goals.
Silvino Moreno also heard criticism from Adriano Nuvunga, the director of Mozambican NGO the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), who warned of internal political contradictions and the persistence of poverty for the majority of the Mozambican population.
“Industrialisation is a word that, in Mozambique, only exists in the dictionary,” he said, adding: “I have not heard the word once in the minister’s speech.”
“With the population hungry, the debate on the green economy is only for the elites, and will not be sustainable,” Nuvunga concluded.