Cabo Delgado economy beheaded by the war of terror

  By  Estacio Valoi With support from Rwanda and the Southern African countries' mission (SAMIM), Mozambique is trying to put an end to


By  Estacio Valoi

With support from Rwanda and the Southern African countries’ mission (SAMIM), Mozambique is trying to put an end to an armed insurgency that has already killed about 4,668 people (40% of the human losses are civilians according to ACLED data). Added to these, are an imprecise number of missing or dead and almost a million displaced persons according to United Nations data.


However, the conflict is as evident as it is elusive: for example, there is no unanimity about the faces behind the barbarity. The difficulty of defining the aggression in northern Mozambique includes, of course, the economy.  There are questions that serve as a starting point: How much money does it move? Which sectors does it affect? How critical is the Rwandan community of Paul Kagame’s regime and how does it enter into the quid pro quo? What parallel economies does it generate? What opportunities are lost? The Centre for Investigative Journalism (CJI) tries to answer these questions.


Since the guns started thundering in 2017 in Cabo Delgado province, with an estimated population of around 2,329, 261 (2017 census), that the conflict linked to violent extremism has been decapitating the economy in the northern province.

Economic and Social Infrastructure Situation

Infrastructures were destroyed and set on fire, both economic and social, public and private:  Destruction of primary (348) and secondary (8) schools, loss of teaching materials and closure of two (2) technical institutes with about 96,274 students from the different education subsystems; total destruction of 10 health units, 29 partially destroyed and 39 vandalized, out of a universe of 131 health units.

Total or partial destruction of the public administration buildings in Mocímboa da Praia, Palma, Muidumbe, Macomia and Quissanga; the retention and treatment and pumping station from the Buji river vandalized, requiring the replacement of equipment; partial destruction of the distribution centre located in Bairro de Cimento, with the destruction of the following equipment: the generator set burnt down, control panels vandalized, torched vehicles, buildings with damage to the roofs; destruction of the Chai (Muchai) museum and buildings integral to the museum, in Macomia district; destruction of the Tomás Ndunda monument and Eduardo Mondlane Square, in Muidumbe district; destruction of the central base in Muidumbe district; and destruction of the central base in Nangade district


The connection/communication between the districts administrative posts and communities was seriously affected, with direct impact on the circulation of people and goods.



Destruction of the electricity grid that includes the Awasse substation; The main branches of the low voltage grid, with a length of 50km, connecting consumers and meters were damaged, estimated at 30% of the total grid to be rehabilitated; The medium voltage grid, with a length of 25km, was not severely affected but there are some spans with interrupted conductors, estimated at 25% of the total grid to be rehabilitated.

Transport and communications


  1. Around 99 base stations in the districts of Mocímboa de Praia, Palma, Quissanga, Muidumbe, Nangade, Meluco, Ibo and Macomia vandalised;


  1. About 941km of Vodacom Aerial Optical Fibre in the sections between Mueda-Awasse and Mocimboa da Praia; Palma-Mocimboa da Praia-Macomia Metoro and Palma-Pundanhar-Nangade-Mueda and about 500km of Movitel Aerial Optical Fibre including poles were damaged. The Tmcel Fibre Optics, as it is underground, suffered partially;


  1. Cargo and equipment stored in containers were partially or totally burnt;


  1. The Ship Berthing Ramp, the mooring points, fenders and part associated with berthing are damaged;


  1. Destruction of e-Government and Community Multimedia Centres infrastructure.


  1. Destruction of 32 1 to 4 stars accommodation establishments, with a total of 374 rooms and 487 beds, especially Amarula Palma Hotel and Hotel Apartamento Palma Residence; and destruction of a restaurant with a total of 78 tables and 287 chairs, affecting 292 workers.
  2. Destruction of a catering establishment with a total of 78 tables and 287 chairs, affecting 292 workers.

The actions of the terrorists caused great damage to economic activities, in particular to agriculture, fishing and trade, culminating in:


Private sector

Destruction of around 4,965 micro, small and medium-sized companies (295 industrial units, 4,504 general stores and 166 services) with the damages estimated at around MZN 42,926.69 million (about USD 681.66 million).


Attacks on Palma harm private sector to the tune of $90 million

The Cabo Delgado business community was damaged to the tune of US$90 million due to the terrorist attacks in the town of Palma on 24 March 2021, according to the Confederation of Business Associations (CTA).

Mocimboa da Praia

The port, airport, police district command, Awasse police checkpoint, municipal council headquarters and district government were partially and completely destroyed. Nagi Investments, fuel pumps, Faruck Jamal’s timber companies, Chinese timber companies, etc. were also destroyed.


An attack on the camp of Gemrock Ruby Mine, a ruby mine near Namanhumbir in the Montepuez district of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, forced the firm to evacuate workers. Gemrock said in a statement it had lost millions of dollars.


An attack took place in Nairoto, which is: (i) approximately 15km southwest of the Nairoto Resources Limitada (“NRL”) exploration field, in which Gemfields owns 75%; and (ii) approximately 83km north of Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada (“MRM”), in which Gemfields also owns 75%.


Consequently, NRL commenced the process of evacuating operational and contract employees and therefore operations at the site have been terminated.


Double tragedy situation

Western Union offers money transfer services through a large network of agents. Agents accept money on behalf of Western Union, which wires the requested amount by charging a commission for the service.


In order to get help from friends of relatives abroad, natives and non-natives of Cabo Delgado, living in the province, need to travel south to the neighbouring Nampula province, also in northern Mozambique. The distance from Cabo Delgado to Nampula by road is about 400 kilometres.


Twice Habiba Aboobakar was forced to flee her home. In March 2020, she fled to the coastal town of Palma after armed insurgents attacked her village in Mocímboa da Praia.


a year later, she was forced to flee again, leaving everything behind after Palma was attacked on 24 March 2021. Aged 32, the mother of three children, she toiled the land, caring for small plot where her family planted cassava and rice, when her husband called to warn her that the town was under attack and told her to flee with her three daughters. They took off towards the beach. “I walked and swam in the water. I had to keep my children safe”, she remembers. “I could see others struggle in the water; some did not survive. It was terrible.”

She received aid from a cousin who lives in Europe, who sent her some money via Western Union. When she arrived at the BIM branch in Pemba, she was informed that the service was not available. “I had to get in a but to Nampula and I was not paid because my identification shows that I was born in Mocímboa da Praia. We’re not terrorists, we’re wictims of terrorism”.

Rwanda and its quid pro quo while Cabo Delgado’s business community is left holding the baby – Economic interests behind solidarity

Since the entry of Rwandan troops in Cabo Delgado, in mid-2021, to help Mozambique fight the insurgency, the agreement signed between Maputo and Kigali to do so remains unknown. In fact, not even the Mozambican Parliament was heard on the matter, which caused a stir.

According to Africa Intelligence, “Rwandan construction company NPD has, at the last minute, joined the list of companies bidding to carry out preparatory work on the gas project in Mozambique. NPD, seen as being close to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, is one of the country’s biggest construction companies, excelling in major works such as dams, roads and bridges.

Africa Intelligence also states that “the French giant TotalEnergies owes a debt to Rwanda for its role in restoring security in the province of Cabo Delgado”, and the analyses carried out suggest that the political decisions of the current regime are taken in Kigali allegedly because of this debt for the Rwandan military intervention, whose results have been much praised, but the allegation has never been confirmed by any of the governments, not even by Total.


Other gains for Kagame


With masses being said in Kigali, if the extradition agreement with Rwanda comes into effect, it will be an instrument of legalised political castration of opponents of the Kigali regime living in Mozambique with refugee status, recognised and granted by the Mozambican government decades ago.


Left to their fate, Rwandan citizens refugees in Mozambique live under high levels of insecurity to which they say they are exposed, following what they call the offensives of the Kigali authorities to eliminate them


This persecution has been ongoing and has already resulted in deaths. Karemandigo Rebocatt, a businessman who was vice president of the Association of Rwandan Refugees in Mozambique, which according to the association, in five years of a “list of citizens marked for death” the deceased led the list of targets marked for death, was the fifth Rwandan killed by unknown “death squad” in Mozambique




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