Mozambican gov’t gets AfDB legal assistance on mining contracts

Some 40 Mozambican government officials are attending a workshop funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) aimed at improving their capacity to negotiate contracts and public-private partnerships in the areas of mining and natural gas, APA learnt on Tuesday.

According to private television station STv, the five-day workshop began on Monday and is intended to improve skills in negotiating contracts for mining and gas distribution.

The government personnel are drawn from the finance, public works and mineral resource sectors.

The workshop is due to a request made by the Mozambican government to the African Legal Support Facility, an AfDB arm that provides technical and legal assistance to African countries in questions arising from complex transactions.

AfDB senior transport engineer Joao Mabombo said the bank is investing in the Mozambican mining sector because this is an area where the country has made great advances in recent years.

But, according to the official, despite those advances, Mozambique still faces severe weaknesses, including a shortage of staff with the skills required to negotiate contracts with multinational mining and hydrocarbon companies.

“There are major multinational companies who come to the country and negotiate with the government and sign contracts, and these are highly specialised areas and we don’t yet have the cadres who are capable of negotiating on a footing of equality with counterparts who represent these multinationals,” Mabombo said.

National treasury director in Mozambique’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, Adriano Ubisse said the training was expected to ensure that best international practice is followed in contracts with large foreign companies.

Mozambique has some 85 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, enough to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades.

But the southern African nation faces a shortage of trained oil and gas workers leading to slowing development of new fields following a series of major discoveries and may force the government to relax rules requiring companies to employ local people.

Mozambique is now investing in programmes to train skilled oil and gas workers, but they are hampered by weak education systems and the high costs involved.

Source: Journal du Cameroun