Government’s proposal to lead regional efforts to harness natural gas resources to boost industrialisation will top the agenda during the South Africa-Mozambique Bi-national Commission which gets underway at the Mozambican capital Maputo on Friday morning.

President Jacob Zuma and his host Filipe Jacinto Nyusi will co-chair the high level ministerial meeting, which will review the state of bilateral trade and investment between the two neighbouring countries.

On Sunday during the SADC leaders’ summit in Pretoria, President Zuma proposed the establishment of a regional body to develop a strategy to facilitate the exploitation of the vast natural gas resources in the region.

In a speech, President Zuma said the discovery of natural gas resources in a number of southern African states including Mozambique presented investment opportunities which will bolster regional industrialisation drive.

President Zuma says the proposed committee will be charged with ensuring the inclusion and promotion of natural gas into the regional energy mix.

“Africans must benefit from African resources. We are proposing the establishment of the inter-state national gas committee to share learning experience for the development of gas economy. The inclusion of gas into the energy mix will facilitate in universal access to energy as well as industrial development in SADC,” says Zuma.

The country has estimated recoverable natural gas reserves of between 15 trillion and 30 trillion cubic feet

Energy experts have argued that new offshore natural gas finds along the Mozambique coast are expected to be a game changer for the country and the southern African region. The country has estimated recoverable natural gas reserves of between 15 trillion and 30 trillion cubic feet, enough to meet one year’s gas consumption by the United States. The recent launch of an 865 kilometre gas pipeline which runs from Temane in Mozambique to Secunda in South Africa has been hailed as one of the major cross-border public-private partnership investment initiative on the continent. South Africa’s Energy Minister Mamoloko Kubayi says the exploitation of vast natural gas reserves will be beneficial for the SADC region. “It’s very crucial because for industries to run they need power not only in South Africa but for the region. More and more industries when they are built they will need energy. We have been major role player as South Africa on the energy side.” Both President Zuma and his Mozambican counterpart Nyusi are also expected to discuss progress made in the curbing of cross-border poaching of endangered species such as rhinos including joint cooperation in mega-projects infrastructure development.

– By Tshepo Ikaneng