ROME– The Mozambique-Italy Chamber of Commerce has praised the efforts of the Mozambican government to secure an effective peace with the country’s rebel; group, Renamo, to create a favourable environment for the promotion of foreign investment.

Speaking to Mozambican journalists in Rome on Wednesday, on the eve of a visit to the Vatican by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, the chamber’s chairperson, Simone Santi, said that private investment strongly depended on a peaceful environment.

A country at peace offers good prospects for investments in all senses. A country where the risks are high doesn’t have any prospect,” he added.

Santi congratulated the efforts made by Nyusi in recent years, as well as those made by the Catholic Church and by Pope Francis.

Nyusi’s visit to the Vatican was aimed at deepening the relations of friendship and solidarity between Mozambique and the Vatican and drawing up perspectives for future co-operation. Nyusi was also expected to thank the Catholic Church for its support in consolidating effective peace in Mozambique.

Turning to Italian investment in Mozambique, Santi said it is was concentrated in the hydrocarbon sector, particularly in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where enormous deposits of natural gas have been discovered in recent years. These discoveries should make Mozambique one of the world’s major producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The Italian energy company ENI is the operator of Rovuma Basin Offshore Area Four, and holds a 25 per cent stake in a consortium which also includes the US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil (25 per cent), the China National Petroleum Corporation (20 per cent), Galp Energy of Portugal, Kogas of Korea, and Mozambique’s own National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) each with ten per cent.

We are talking of investments already approved in the order of 50 billion US dollars, said Santi. Today, Italy has become the largest European investor in Mozambique.

Italian businesses, he added, had not limited their interests to the oil and gas sector, since there are also significant Italian investments in renewable energy, tourism and agriculture.

The growing interest of Italian companies in Mozambique was shown by the growth in the membership of the Chamber of Commerce. Santi said that, when he became chairperson in 2015, there were only 12 Italian companies enrolled in the Chamber. That number has now risen to more than 70.