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Energy for all: Can gas extraction contribute to sustainable development? The cases of Mozambique and Tanzania

Can natural gas extraction contribute to sustainable development? An increasing number tend to answer «no» when it comes to the Global North, but the answers regarding the Global South tend to be more mixed.

CENSU – Climate change Energy Sustainability – welcomes you to its first public seminar in order to discuss a key issue in the wake of COP27:

Can natural gas extraction contribute to sustainable development?

While an increasing number of scholars and policy makers tend to answer «no» to this question when it comes to countries in the Global North, the answers regarding the Global South tend to be more mixed due to their needs for increased energy production in order to reduce poverty. 

OsloMet invites everybody interested in the topic – whether university scholars and students, people working in the government, or activists in non-government organizations – to register for the seminar.

Admission and meals free of charge. 

CENSU is a partnership between Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), State University of Zanzibar (Tanzania), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) and Universidade Lurio (Mozambique), financed by Norad’s NORHED II program

CENSU’s chief objective is to foster competence and capacity – within both education and research – on the sustainability implications of gas extraction and governance in the context of vulnerable communities and climate change. Tanzania and Mozambique hold huge gas deposits in the Rovuma Basin in the Indian Ocean, and emerging gas extraction activities pose both opportunities and challenges.

Practical information:

Admission, meals and refreshments are free, but you do need to register by November 29th.

This is a hybrid seminar: Participants from CENSU’s four partner universities in Mozambique and Tanzania will participate digitally, as part of a week with collaborative courses. 

Organizer: «Climate change, Energy Sustainability: Governance and Transformations» (CENSU), a NORHED II project 2021-2026,  with additional financial support from the Sustainability Committee of Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet).


  • Thursday 1st of December 2022 , 09:00 – 15:30

    • 08:30-09:00: Check-in. Coffee and breakfast
    • 09:00-09:15: Opening: NORHED II Coordinator at OsloMet, Marit Haug
    • 09:15 – 10:30: Energy for all: Oil and gas extraction in low-income countries from the perspective of sustainability.

    Speaker: Einar Braathen, CENSU/OsloMet
    Contributions/comments from: 

    1. Geir Yngve Hermansen, Senior Adviser in Section for Energy, Norad
    2. Ragnhild Elisabeth Waagaard,  leader Climate and Energy team, WWF Verdens Naturfond (Norway). 

    Questions and comments from a panel of CENSU PhD candidates (the PhD panel):

    1. Mwadini Juma Khatib, SUZA, Zanzibar (Tanzania)
    2. Zainabu Shabani Bungwa , UDSM,  Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
    3. Humberto Macamo, UEM, Maputo (Mozambique)
    4. Rachida Omar, UniLurio, Pemba (Mozambique)

    Q&A. Open floor discussion.

    • 10:45 – 12:00: The Political Economy of the Presource Curse: expectations and the violence of imagination

    Guest lecturer: Lars Buur, Roskilde University Centre, Denmark

    Questions and comments from the PhD panel.
    Q&A. Open floor discussion

    • 12:00-12:45: Lunch 
    • 12:45 – 14:00: Focus Mozambique: Violent conflicts in Cabo Delgado – a consequence of the gas extraction projects?

    Guest lecturer: Aslak Orre, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen.

    Questions and comments from the PhD panel.
    Q&A. Open floor discussion

    • 14:15 – 15:30: Focus Tanzania: From resource nationalism to petro pragmatism – but what about climate change and sustainability?


    1. Marianne Millstein, CENSU/OsloMet: Governing prospective ‘petro-towns’: Opportunities and constraints for sustainable urban development in Mtwara and Lindi, Tanzania.
    2. Hanne Svarstad, CENSU/OsloMet:
      With Tanzania, Zanzibar and Mozambique in mind: Are there any sustainable and climate just approaches available for Global South countries with fossil fuel resources?

    Questions and comments from the PhD panel.
    Q&A. Discussion


  • Einar Braathen

    Braathen is the project coordinator of CENSU and research professor at the Norwegian Institute for Urban Research (NIBR), OsloMet.

    A political scientist, he has more than 30 years of experience in development research and assessments focused on the Southern Africa and Brazil. He has visited Mozambique and Tanzania frequently since 1989, spent almost two years in the region total, and published extensively on the countries.

    His main research interest has been on local governance, with projects both in Mozambique and Tanzania on this subject, analyzing the relationships between local governments, civil societies and local communities and their implications on poverty. Lately, he has become more engaged in various aspects of sustainable development. 

  • Lars Buur

    Buur is an Associate professor in international development and global studies at Roskilde University. He has a PhD in ethnography and social anthropology from Aarhus university.

    His key research interests include state formation and sovereign, natural resource investments, industrial policy in Africa, and social cash transfers. His key publications can be found in Extractive Industry and Society, Third World Quarterly, Geoforum, among others. He has also co-authored The Politics of African Industrial Policy for Cambridge University Press (with Lindsay Whitfield, Ole Therkildsen and Mette Kjær) and has edited several books and journal special issues on traditional authorities, security and sovereignty.

    His forthcoming edited book (2023) Land, Rights, and the Politics of Investments in Africa: Ruling Elites, Power and Natural Resources will be published by Elgar Publishers.


    This keynote will discuss the difference between ‘resource curse’ and the notion of the ‘presource curse’, as both notions suggests that large inflows of extractive industry revenues cause adverse macro-economic, political and governance effects – but what are the difference that makes a difference between the two notions?

    The second part of the presentation will discuss ‘expectations’ that has been, and indeed is, a major driver of capitalism. It is as such a key economic logic, and we argue, important for understanding ‘presource curse’ dynamics.

    In the presentation we are specifically interested in the move from the notion of ‘expectations’ and what we broadly can talk about as ‘anticipation’ – the movement from expectations to acting of the future – when different (institutional) actors begin to act on expected outcomes.

    In the presentation we discuss how ‘anticipation’ of future resource revenues in Mozambique lead to not one but a series of negative macroeconomic, political and governance effects long before ‘real’ resource extraction and revenue capture have taken place, which points to the role of behavioral aspects of the ‘presource curse’.

    Using empirical evidence from Mozambique this presentation explores how the anticipation of future extractive revenues led to ‘presource curse’ effects.

  • Aslak Orre

    Orre is a senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI).

    With a background in comparative politics, he has for over two decades focused his research on political and economic development in Angola and Mozambique. He has taken part in or led a number of collaborative research initiatives on governance and corruption, local governance, political opposition and authoritarian government, the challenges of extractive industries, media and public space, and the role of China in Africa.

    Since 2021 he has coordinated an NFR-funded research project that aims at explaining the war in Northern Mozambique.

    Abstract: Violent conflicts in Cabo Delgado – a consequence of the gas extraction projects?

    Since the insurgency and war in Cabo Delgado broke out in 2017, Mozambicans and the world have debated how to explain it.

    While the Mozambican government has persistently treated the war as an imposition by (foreign) terrorists, some have focused on the internal contradictions related to religion, regionalism, the politics of ethnicity, as well as poverty and exclusion. Yet others have called it war for extractive resources, linking it to the discovery of giant LNG-reserves offshore Cabo Delgado.

    Researchers agree that this war has no single cause, and the lines of conflict are multiple. The war came out of, and is driven, by both greed and grievances, with religious and political ideology playing a role. The discovery of gas, and the incipient development of the gas industry, remains among the most important and transformative events of the last decades, although it is merely the latest addition to a long history of extractive industries that have mostly benefited foreigners and Mozambican middlemen, while most inhabitants of the province have remained poverty stricken.

    Orre will discuss the origins and drivers of the war in Cabo Delgado, assessing and weighting the impacts of the gas extraction projects in this mix of problems.

  • Marianne Millstein

    Millstein is a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway) and holds a PhD in human geography from the University of Oslo.

    Working at the intersections of geography, African urban studies and development studies, her research focuses on urban politics, governance and planning, civil society, and citizenship. While continuing her long term interest in urban Africa, in particular South Africa, she has recently also worked on related issues in Scandinavian cities.

    Her latest publications are two edited volumes: a book titled Demokratiske byrom/Democratic urban spaces (2021) and the special issue Juxtacities: Urban Difference, Divides, Authority and Citizenship in the Global South (Urban Forum 2020). 

  • Hanne Svarstad

    Svarstad is a Norwegian sociologist, political ecologist and Professor of Development Studies at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet).

    Her present research is about climate change mitigation, climate justice, and critical climate education. Svarstad tries to understand impacts of her own country’s interventions in the global South, and how they come about in Norway. She argues the need for in-depth case studies within global contexts and has herself undertaken such studies mainly in Tanzania and Norway.

    Svarstad is also engaged in theoretical studies of power, justice and discourses, and in critiques and alternatives to the mainstream approach to sustainable development.

    Recent book: Benjaminsen, T.A. & H. Svarstad. 2021. Political Ecology: A critical engagement with global environmental issues. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 


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