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Transparency in Extractive Mega Projects in Mozambique

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique, Citizen Media, Development, Economics & Business, Governance, International Relations

With the discovery [1] [pt] of further reserves of hydrocarbons and mineral resources in Mozambique, the country has seen its land become one of the most attractive [2] on the African continent for large international investors. Although the country's economy is growing at a rate of 7% per year, Mozambique maintains one of the lowest positions [3] [pt] in the UN Human Development Index. How can more opportunities be created for the country's citizens to get closer to, participate in and benefit from the development boom in Mozambique?

The group Terraço Aberto [4] (Open Terrace) [pt], created by the Swiss Association for International Cooperation, Helvetas [5], organises monthly popular assemblies for “reflective, critical and open debate” about the country's socio-economic development, especially in the Northern region, in Cabo Delgado. The 11th meeting which took place in November focused specifically on the subject of “Transparency in (Mega-)Projects for Resource Extraction [6]” [pt]:

A transparência devia existir em todas as fases dos Megaprojectos para facilitar a sua aceitação e o encaixamento harmonioso na sociedade.
Como é que as informações são divulgadas? São suficientes?
O facto de Moçambique fazer parte da “Iniciativa de Transparência na Indústria Extractiva” [ITIE] é conhecido? Sabemos de que se trata e quais são os mecanismos de controlo?
Quais são os benefícios da transparência a todos os níveis?
Somos apenas espectadores ou sabemos o que se passa nos vários níveis e componentes dos (Mega-) Projectos?

Transparency must exist in all phases of the mega projects in order to facilitate their acceptance and harmonious embedding into society.
How is the information made public? Is sufficient information given?
Is the fact that Mozambique forms part of the “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative” (EITI) known?
Do we know what the initiative is about and what the control mechanisms are?
What are the benefits of transparency at all levels?
Are we just spectators or do we know what is happening at the various levels and components of the (Mega) Projects?

Photo by Terraço Aberto (Public Debate in Cabo Delgado) on Facebook [7]

Photo by Terraço Aberto (Public Debate in Cabo Delgado) on Facebook

The presentations made at the opening of the session by the Centre for Public Integrity [8] (CIP) [pt] – about the framing of Mozambique in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) -, by the Catholic University of Mozambique [9] (UCM) [pt] – about the contribution of the universities towards greater transparency in the mega projects -, and by the thematic group Management of Natural Resources and the Environment [10] [pt] were shared on Terraço Aberto [11]‘s [pt] Facebook page.

The contributions made by citizens present during the session were also transcribed for the Facebook page. The questions raised tackled the necessity for the training [12] [pt] and education [13] [pt] of the community, the creation of networks [14] [pt], the social responsibility [15] [pt] of the companies and the way in which the resettlement and compensation [16] [pt] of the population has been carried out, the environmental impact [17] [pt] of the works, the lack of equipment [18] [pt], conflicts of interest [19] [pt], and also the lack of information about the charges and taxes paid by the prospecting companies.

On this last point, Dionísio Nambora from the CIP, began by deploring [20] [pt] the lack of information about the multinational ENI [21], later adding:

Outras empresas tenho informação que pagam por volta de um milhão de dolares. (…) Olhando para a Kemar por exemplo, tem isenções fiscais para 10 anos, impostos fiscais reduzidos foram e apenas paga 3%, tem isenção no IVA, e outras taxas que tem impactos sérios sobre o ponto de vista de comprimento de acções fiscais. Depois de 10 anos não haverá algum impacto do aparecimento da Kemar.

I have information that other companies pay around a million dollars. (…) Looking at Kemar for example, they have tax exemption for 10 years, their fiscal taxes were reduced and they barely pay 3%, they are exempt from VAT and other taxes which have a serious impact from the point of view of the performance of fiscal shares. After 10 years there will be no impact on the emergence of Kemar.

António Macanis, director of the Programme for Decentralised Finance in Cabo Delgado, questioned how it could be guaranteed that the social funds channelled to the National Institute for Petroleum would benefit local populations, and added [22] [pt]:

temos tantas universidades na Provincia de Cabo Delgado. Porque é que estas náo podem fazer modulos pequenos para poder capacitar as pessoas que estão naquelas zonas, como pequenos empresários para que possam tomar proveito.

we have so many universities in the Province of Cabo Delgado. Why don't they create short modules in order to train the people living in these areas, such as small businesspeople so that they can take advantage of them.

To which the representative of the UCM [23] [pt] replied:

Está comprovado que a maior parte dos países que tem os megaprojectos de Industria Extractiva que o rácio de empregabilidade é menor. Como universidade perguntamos se empregam poucas pessoas, destas quantas são moçambicanas?

It is proven that the majority of the countries which host mega projects run by the Extractive Industry are those where the ratio of employability is lower. As a university, we ask if they employ few people, how many of these people are Mozambican?

Ersílo Zacarias, television presenter, says that [24] [pt] “in the areas where the resources are located, the population is getting poorer and poorer”:

Por exemplo em Tete as pessoas estão a sofrer porque foram tiradas das suas zonas onde tinham riqueza para outras zonas onde não têm o que tinham.

O custo de vida nesses lugares aumenta e a população local continua na miséria. Em Téte encontramos Brasileiros a fazer limpeza enquanto a população local continua mais pobre. Onde está o Governo para fiscalizar isso?

Recentemente em Montepuez, Namanhumbir deparei-me com policia a disparar contra pessoas, que se dizem ser garimpeiros ilegais. Tudo bem, mas nem este polícia conhece quem é o dono desta terra em que vai baleando os nativos.

For example in Tete, people are suffering because they were removed from the areas where they had wealth to other areas where they do not have what they had before.

The cost of living in these places increases and the local population continues in poverty. In Tete we find Brazilians cleaning while the local population gets poorer. Where is the Government to control this?

Recently in Montepuez, Namanhumbir I came across a policeman shooting at people, who it was said were illegal prospectors. Ok, but this policeman doesn't know who owns the land where he's shooting at the natives.

Meanwhile, for Ismael, an economist, the mega projects also have a positive impact [25] [pt]:

Olhemos Pemba em 2005 e vejam Pemba em 2012. Algumas despesas destas empresas e seus trabalhadores criam um impacto indirecto. Já há pessoas que compraram motas e outros bens que não era notável antes. (…) Por exemplo fala-se da terra. Quem está a vender a terra aqui. somos nós os Moçambicanos. Só que mais tarde reclamamos que não temos terra ora isto mais aquilo. A iniciativa dos petróleos, dos grandes negócios é bem vinda mas cabe a nós seguir o ritmo de desenvolvimento.

Look at Pemba in 2005 and look at Pemba in 2012. Some of the expenditure of these companies and their employees has an indirect impact. There are already people who have bought motorcycles and other goods which weren't notable before. (…) For example, let's think about land. Those who are selling land here are we Mozambicans. It is only later on that we complain that we don't have land and this, that and the other…. The initative of the oil companies, of the large businesses is welcome but we must keep up with the rhythm of development.

Alberto Domingos, UP Montepuez, suggests [26] [pt] that more must be done in terms of social responsability, with the creation of offices for District Services of Economic Activities:

Se por exemplo se impusesse como condição que cada uma destas empresas pudesse construir uma Escola, Estradas, portos, um hospital ou uma outra infraestrutura o benefício seria mais sentido pela população local.

If for example the condition could be imposed that each of these companies should build a school, roads, ports, a hospital or some other infrastructure, the benefit would be felt more greatly by the local population.

Photo from the 6th Terraço Aberto dedicated to the topic "Early Marriages: Tradition, Convenience or Crime?" Photo by Terraço Aberto (Public Debate in Cabo Delgado) on Facebook. [27]

Photo by Terraço Aberto (Public Debate in Cabo Delgado) on Facebook.

On a final note, a participant in the session who was not identified, questioned [28] [pt] the lack of debate and information, both from the media and politicians – “who is responsible for controlling the activities of the mining companies and of the other mega projects which are being undertaken?” Public debates such as the ones provided by Terraço Aberto point without a doubt to new responses [29] [pt]:

É possível atingir um nível em que a sociedade civil é a essência de governação participativa impulsionada pela integração com o governo e o sector privado. Tudo isso, por uma comunidade transparente e inclusiva.

It is possible to reach a point at which civil society is the essence of participative governance driven by integration with the government and the private sector. All this, for a transparent and inclusive community.

Another participant, Jorge Tadeu, suggested [30] [pt] that the debate should not end when the terrace closed, and that more citizens should take up the commitment [31] [pt] of the young lady Lucia Jofrice, inspired by the public debate and its participants:

a lista é enorme e inclui entre outras entidades publicas e privadas, sociedade civil, a mim propria e a ti que nao estamos a exercer a cidadania na plenitude apesar de conhecermos e termos as ferramentas necessárias.

the list is long and includes, amongst others, public and private entities, civil society, the me and the you who are not fully exercising our citizenship despite knowing about and having the necessary tools.