When the sun goes down more than 80 % of Mozambique enters into darkness

Diamantino Nhampossa, koordinatör för Mocambiques bondeorganisation UNAC, presenterade följande text om energi och biobränsle på ett seminarium i Norge förra veckan.

Mozambique is one of the major energy producers in Southern Africa. Mozambique’s output from the two gas fields in southern Inhambane province is 120 million GigaJoules (GJ) and is on the increase to 183 GJ per annum, with other gas reserves such as Pande, Temane and Buzi projected for exploration, to result in estimated gas reserves of 700×109 m3. The estimated hydropower potential for Mozambique is as high as 14000 MW, with the current hydropower production being 2 488 MW.

Mozambique also has major energy sovereignty challenges that need to be addressed, and jatropha has been projected as one of the solutions. Mozambique imported 750 million USD of fuel in 2008, over 300 million USD more than in 2004.

Petroleum products and natural gas constitutes only 8.03% of the total energy consumption in the country, which was about 7.9 million tons of oil equivalent (toe) – about 0.425 toe per capita in 2004. The main energy source is firewood and charcoal, accounting for 89.94%, while hydroelectricity and coal contribute only 2.03%.

However, the lack of access to more sustainable energy sources is due not to the country’s production or projected capacity, but its policies and priorities. The 2 075 MW produced from the Cahora Bassa dam alone is enough to meet the country’s entire energy needs, but only about 1% of the Mozambican rural population and 14% of the total population has access to electricity. 

In addition, not everyone who has access to electricity has the resources to pay for it. The bulk of both gas and hydropower produced in Mozambique is exported to neighbouring South Africa, with insignificant amounts allocated locally. Therefore, the country is still not able to meet its population’s energy needs, despite having the potential to do so.  This is due partly to the open free market approach imposed by the international financial agencies that fund more that 50% of the government annual budget.

The local market is considered to be weak and is out-competed by foreign markets with better prices. In addition, government revenues from these exports are mismanaged and not invested significantly into solving the food & energy sovereignty crisis. The result is that the country enjoys neither food nor energy sovereignty, for reasons related to the lack of conception, implementation and management of public policies oriented to the needs of the country.

Jatropha is expected to follow a similar pattern, with the majority of the production planned to feed foreign markets such as Europe. Biofuel can be a solution to fight poverty if understood as a solution salve the country’s problem of lack of sources of energy to promote local development if produced at local level.

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