Presidency comes partially clean on fracking

Chinese investment in Mozambique has focused on various sectors, reflecting Beijing’s attempts to promote Chinese companies overseas. Construction has been of particular interest to China, with over 30 Chinese construction companies currently based in Maputo, Henan International Cooperation Group, for example, was responsible for the construction of the bridge over the Incomati River. In 2009, roughly one-third of all road construction in Mozambique was being carried out by Chinese companies.

In a recent column entitled Southern African elephant corridors blocked by poachers, Don Pinnock paints an alarming picture of the threats facing Botswana’s huge elephant herds: how hordes of hunters and poachers are lining up to gun them down, and how thousands of hungry elephants are now trapped south of the Chobe river unable to head north to colonise the vast empty parks in Zambia and Angola.

Sometimes despair seems to be the only response – despair that in 2013, a government can be pushing ahead with a massive plan to produce natural gas without telling the public. Despair that after all the rhetoric about transparency and accountability in the mining sector – a government has been granting concessions to vast tracts of land, including in world famous national parks, without bothering to inform, let along consult, local communities.

Botswana has been quietly handing out licences for natural gas production covering vast tracts of land including half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Botswana's secretive dash for gas

A visit to Mozambique’s capital can be an experience in luxury. Maputo’s newly-built international airport sells aftershaves for $230 and bottles of Dom Perignon for $320. Across the city centre, bars and restaurants with names such as Café Continental, Nautilus or 1908offer Western-style haute cuisine and cocktails. Upmarket residential areas display a bewildering array of 1960s modernist and Art Deco designs, brilliant sculptures and murals, while skyscrapers dominate the horizon.

Fracking the Kalahari

While a fierce debate has been raging about fracking in South Africa and elsewhere, the Botswana government has been silently pushing ahead with plans to produce natural gas, keeping the country in the dark as it grants concessions over vast tracts of land, including the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Chobe National Park.

There are few more controversial topics within the global debate on the impact of extractive industries than ‘fracking’ - now the fight has come to southern Africa.

How will fracking affect the Karoo?

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