Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Tokyo would help Mozambique counter Islamist insurgents in the restive north.
Mozambique’s gas-rich northernmost province, Cabo Delgado, is struggling with an insurgency waged by militants linked to the Islamic State group.
“Japan will financially support the fight against terrorism,” Kishida told a press conference in the capital, Maputo, the final leg of an African tour.
“Security is crucial for the operation of Japanese companies in northern Mozambique.”
Mozambique has set high hopes on vast natural gas deposits — the largest found south of the Sahara — that were discovered in the Muslim-majority northern province in 2010.
If all the deposits are tapped, Mozambique could become one of the world’s 10 biggest gas exporters, according to estimates.
But the five-year insurgency, which has killed more than 4,600 people, has cast doubt over the scheme.
Japanese conglomerate Mitsui holds a 20 percent stake in a $20 billion gas project led by French energy giant TotalEnergies that has been on hold since 2021 following a jihadist attack on the nearby coastal town of Palma.
Last week, Mozambique’s president Filipe Nyusi said conditions were right for work to resume, but TotalEnergies is yet to commit to restarting the project.
Mozambique Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo has announced that Japan would supply the African nation with air navigation equipment worth around $22.5 million and a surveillance vessel valued at $830,000.
Japan is the world’s biggest importer of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) — a title it normally contends with China.
Kishida said Tokyo intends to deepen relations with Maputo “especially in the energy sector.”
He also visited Ghana, Egypt, and Kenya.