Energy landscapes in Mozambique: The role of extractive industries in a post-conflict environment

Joshua Daniel Kirshner, Vanesa Castan Broto, Idalina Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rather than an integrated project of modernity, the provision of energy in Mozambique is characterized by social and territorial fragmentation. Our concern in this article is with spatial-political projects that enlist energy-related infrastructure as a means of furthering national unity across the national territory. We argue that the Mozambican state’s efforts to knit together its territory through energy provision have heightened divisions, such as between urban and rural areas, subnational regions and socioeconomic groups. We draw on geographical political economy and landscape research to consider the space and territoriality of Mozambique’s energy systems. We use the lens of ‘energy landscapes’ to interpret and understand the spatialities and historical legacies of energy-related infrastructural state projects, and how such spatialities and legacies shape new energy projects. These landscapes are material expressions of the social and institutional relations bound up in energy extraction, distribution and consumption. They reflect historical legacies, revealing traces of successive developments. While previous studies have focused on local energy landscapes in a variety of settings, our aim is to examine how such landscapes connect with wider nation-building projects and the operation of political economies. To elucidate these points, we examine two energy-related projects and their landscapes in Mozambique: Cahora Bassa hydropower dam and the Moatize coal extraction zone. The article concludes by reflecting on the ways in which energy landscapes can be used to interrogate the dynamics of power underlying energy systems, and the evolving links between state power and electric power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019

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  • energy landscapes
  • extractive industry
  • Coal mining
  • hydroelectricity
  • Mozambique

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