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Mozambique Channel: The New Axis

Updated: Aug 14, 2023





The waters off Mozambique are becoming a major new security hotspot in the Indian Ocean. An Islamist insurrection in northern Mozambique that the government seems powerless to suppress has also increasingly led to disruption in the waters off its coast.


The insurgency in Mozambique has the potential to destabilise Southern Africa and embolden Islamists throughout the northern region. It threatens security in the Mozambique Channel, between Madagascar and East Africa that carries some 30% of global tanker traffic. It is also the location of some of the world’s largest gas reserves.


Armed clashes escalated sharply in 2020-21, with attacks spilling over the border into Tanzania, where the government faces local Islamist extremists. There are also growing attacks on maritime infrastructure. Insurgents have already mounted operations that temporarily seized a key port in northern Mozambique from government forces, raising major concerns.


Maritime drug smuggling has become a primary source of funds for insurgents. The route has long brought heroin grown in Afghanistan down the East African coast, where a substantial portion is now landed in northern Mozambique before being transported to Europe and elsewhere. Heroin is also increasingly supplemented by crystal meth, produced in Afghanistan.


Mozambique’s future economy relies heavily on maintaining a safe offshore domain. For this reason, the government has been called upon to use every opportunity to build the required capacity and partnerships to maintain the rule of law at sea.


Currently, the Cabo Delgado is of significance for the delivery of goods by sea and air for the construction projects under way to develop onshore infrastructure in support of the gas industry. The threat on shore and off shore remains considerable with little outlook for improvement.


Our Maritime teams ensure safe passage and early warning signs of any potential hostile interface through these waters.


Drop our Maritime team a line to discuss your situation.



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