Residents of Portugal fleeing austerity measures and unemployment are packing up and heading to Mozambique, according to a report in the Charleston Chronicle.
Goncalo Teles Gomes, Portuguese consul in the Mozambique capital of Maputo, estimates there are 30,000 Portuguese living in Mozambique.
The Southern African nation is experiencing an oil and gas extraction boom, drawing newcomers, especially from the former colonial nation of Portugal, the report says.
“We have seen an increase in new registrations of between 30 and 35 percent since 2009,” Gomes said. “One hundred forty new Portuguese migrants arrive every month in Mozambique and others fly in and out, working in different kinds of businesses.”
Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975. With it, a quarter million Portuguese departed, leaving the local economy in tatters, the report said. The Mozambican Civil War of 1977-1992 destroyed the remaining wealth and left the former Portuguese colony devastated, according to the report.
Local Mozambicans are wary of the Portuguese return. Foreign companies are benefiting from government tax incentives and blocks of potential oil fields off the Eastern coast are being sold off to Asian and Indian companies, according to the Charleston Chronicle report.
One area, the Rovuma Area 1 block, could make Mozambique the second largest liquid natural gas exporter in the world after Qatar. For the Indian companies seeking drilling contracts, the block contains 20 times India’s annual gas consumption.
Houston-based company Anadarko also has one of the largest gas extraction wells in the country.
Little of the oil and gas wealth trickles down to the majority of Mozambique’s farmers and fishermen, the report says. About 70 percent of country lives in rural areas, average life expectancy is 48 and 55.2 percent lives in poverty, according to the Charleston Chronicle report.