The Political Economy of Energy

The economy of Mozambique is largely dependent on exports of energy resources, especially coal and natural gas. The operation of energy industries, however, is largely extractive meaning that while energy resources in the country are abundant, there is not a direct benefit from such resources to the country’s population.


While Mozambique’s press and international commentators have been looking towards the operation of the country’s elites and the monopolies that control energy resources in the country, in this project, we have looked at how the political economy of energy is translated into patterns of unequal access. In particular, we were interested in the extent to which current practices of decentralisation may have helped to widen energy access and democratise access to resources.


To do so we looked at the cases of Maputo and Beira. While Maputo is a stronghold of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the dominant party in Mozambique, Beira is governed by the opposition party Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM). The case of Beira, historically Mozambique’s second city, helps to understand if differential energy planning policies and logics existed in cities administered by opposition political parties. Moreover, comparing the two cases helps to examine the extent to which decentralisation provides an alternative to national control of infrastructure and resources.


Our initial results suggest that a dual logic of electricity provision is emerging at a national scale, translating into two models of provision: centralised grid expansion in dominant urban areas, and off-grid, decentralised systems targeting excluded areas. Access to fuels is not prioritised despite the enormous gap in the country. Decentralisation emerges as a timid alternative: energy access levels are significantly lower in Beira. There is, however, some incipient evidence that greater local influence and responsibility over energy provision could support effective responses to improve lower energy access levels and integrate energy access with other challenges such as securing housing provision and responding to frequent cyclones and floods.

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For an expansion please see: A Luta Continua... at the following link;

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For a discussion of new spaces of resource extraction, please see:

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For a discussion of energy sovereignty and planning in Mozambique, please see: 

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