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Tom Bowker

Maputo, Mozambique
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About Tom
I am a journalist based in Maputo, Mozambique. I co-founded and co-edit Zitamar News, the leading English-language news source on the country. Prior to founding Zitamar I served as Bloomberg's correspondent in Mozambique. I still freelance for a number of publications, focusing mainly on politics and business and economic news.
Languages
Bosnian English Croatian
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Services
Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Vox Pop News Gathering
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Skills
Business Finance Politics
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Portfolio

Zitamar Week in Review, 3-8 March 2024

08 Mar 2024  |  Zitamar News
The insurgency in Mozambique continues to displace nearly 100,000 people, exacerbating humanitarian crises. President Filipe Nyusi's remarks highlight the insurgents' targeting of children for kidnappings. Nyusi's diplomatic visit to Algeria aims to address the religious aspects of the insurgency. Meanwhile, Frelimo is accused of manipulating voter registration ahead of the October general election, with the National Elections Committee focusing on pro-Frelimo areas. The party's internal conflict over selecting a presidential candidate persists, with agriculture minister Celso Correia as Nyusi's preferred successor.

Democratic deadlines

26 Jan 2024  |  zitamar.com
Mozambique's Parliament is set to return on 22 February for a session to amend various electoral laws, following an extraordinary session that established the timetable for voter registration and candidate submissions for the upcoming election. Renamo, the main opposition party, is running behind schedule but has finally called a National Council meeting to select its presidential candidate for the October election. The party's current leader, Ossufo Momade, remains in his role beyond his term without a clear process for his replacement.

Zitamar Week in Review: A difficult transition

05 Nov 2023  |  Zitamar News
Zitamar News reviewed the week's events in Mozambique, highlighting the country's clean energy transition, political tensions following election fraud allegations, and the challenges in the mining sector. Nampula province is transitioning from charcoal to cooking gas, while a methanol plant could utilize Mozambique's gas reserves. Renamo's leader Ossufo Momade rejected war in response to election fraud, and Frelimo faces accusations of reactivating death squads. The government appointed SGS to monitor mineral exports, aiming to reduce tax evasion. Economic inequality persists despite extractive industries, and inflation is falling. The Islamic State-backed insurgency in Cabo Delgado is advancing, threatening security and gas projects. Samora Machel Júnior criticized infiltrators within Frelimo, positioning himself as a potential opposition figure.

Falcons against doves in the elections aftermath

17 Oct 2023  |  Zitamar News
Public concern is growing over allegations of fraud in Mozambique's recent local elections. The main opposition party, Renamo, led by Ossufo Momade, is facing internal pressure from candidates who believe they won in key cities. Momade has announced peaceful demonstrations in response to the alleged malpractice, while some party members, like Venâncio Mondale, have shown a readiness for more confrontational actions.

A test for Mozambique’s democracy

11 Oct 2023  |  Zitamar News
Mozambique is conducting voting in major towns and cities with reports indicating a generally orderly process, despite some uncovered attempts at vote tampering. Election authorities aim to deliver results within three days, with preliminary outcomes expected soon. The elections will indicate whether Mozambique is moving towards a one-party state or if there is hope for a plural democracy.

Zitamar Week in Review, 2-6 October 2023

06 Oct 2023  |  zitamar.com
This week, Mozambique settled legal actions with UBS, canceling $900m in debt claims. The government also decided not to seek compensation from Privinvest for the 'hidden debts' scandal. Upcoming local elections in Mocímboa da Praia are anticipated to be competitive. Mozambique's domestic public borrowing has increased, and the Bank of Mozambique reported a total domestic public sector debt of $5.04bn. Renamo ex-guerrillas are still awaiting pensions promised in the 2019 peace agreement. The Mozambican government is seeking lethal weapons from the EU to combat the insurgency in Cabo Delgado.

UK prepares new Mozambique security policy

09 Aug 2023  |  Zitamar News
Mozambique has been receiving offers of military support and security cooperation from various governments, including Russia, Japan, and India. The United Kingdom has now joined this effort, with the British High Commission in Maputo planning to establish a new 'defence section' to strengthen relations between the British military and the Mozambican armed forces and explore defence sales opportunities.

Looming police strike threatens disaster

08 Aug 2023  |  zitamar.com
The Mozambican government is at risk due to a potential unprecedented police strike, spurred by salary delays of 2-3 months. This strike could have severe implications for law and order and counter-insurgency operations against the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province, where the police's Rapid Intervention Unit plays a crucial role. The absence of police action could embolden insurgents, who have been terrorizing civilians for six years.

A graphite shut-down

19 Jul 2023  |  zitamar.com
Mozambique is pushing for in-country processing of mineral resources, aligning with a trend in southern Africa. However, the Balama graphite mine, operated by Syrah Resources, has been idle since May due to low demand from Chinese battery producers. Despite the current lack of activity, the mine is expected to be a significant source of graphite for the electric vehicle industry in the long term.

Pemba seeks stability after decade of boom and bust

14 Jun 2023  |  Zitamar News
Pemba, the port city and capital of Cabo Delgado, has experienced a boom and bust cycle and has not become the thriving gas hub it was once expected to be. The Port of Pemba is currently under-performing, with a decline in exports of cotton, timber, and fish.

Mozambique’s problem? Too much money

01 Jun 2023  |  zitamar.com
Mozambican banks face sustainability concerns following the Bank of Mozambique's decision to increase reserve requirements to combat persistent inflation, while maintaining the central interest rate at 17.25%.

Zitamar Weekly Review, 20-26 May 2023

26 May 2023  |  zitamar.com
This week, significant events unfolded including the South African court's decision to extradite Manuel Chang to the US, the publication of the Rufin report on human rights in Cabo Delgado, and the announcement of TotalEnergies' consortium as the preferred bidder for the Mphanda Nkuwa dam. Mozambique's government reduced senior officials' pay, and the electoral process in Gaza is under scrutiny for 'ghost voters.' International relations are highlighted with visits from foreign officials and President Nyusi's international engagements. The US Exim Bank may reconsider financing the Mozambique LNG project if force majeure is lifted. The Mozambican government has been resistant to Chang's extradition, fearing further international exposure of the country's financial scandal.

Total publishes landmark report on Cabo Delgado

23 May 2023  |  Zitamar News
Jean-Christophe Rufin's report, published by TotalEnergies, outlines a roadmap for rebooting the Mozambique LNG project, emphasizing the improved humanitarian and security situation in Cabo Delgado. The report criticizes the Frelimo government for its role in the conflict and calls for an end to TotalEnergies' payments to Mozambican soldiers. It also highlights the failings of the project's former operator, Anadarko, in resettlement efforts.

Renamo prepares to close Gorongosa base

17 May 2023  |  zitamar.com
Renamo is preparing to close its Gorongosa base as part of the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration process. President Filipe Nyusi met with Renamo's president, Ossufo Momade, and a statement from Nyusi's office indicated that the conditions for DDR are in place. Although initially not jointly signed, a Renamo spokesperson later confirmed the party's agreement with the statement.

Crunch time in London ‘hidden debts’ trial

26 Apr 2023  |  zitamar.com
Mozambique's ability to sue Credit Suisse and Privinvest in London is at a critical juncture as the judge reviews progress in evidence provision. A trial scheduled for October to address claims related to Mozambique's $2 billion 'hidden debts' is at risk due to non-compliance by President Filipe Nyusi and institutions close to the presidency. The Attorney General's office is attempting to comply with court requests, but cannot compel the President's cooperation. Nyusi's resistance to providing evidence could lead to the trial's cancellation, which coincides with his pursuit of a third presidential term.

Lack of transparency mars new oil and gas exploration

17 Apr 2023  |  Zitamar News
Mozambique's petroleum regulator has confirmed that drilling in the A5-A block off Angoche is set to begin, despite delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transparency concerns have been raised following Sasol's secretive sale of a stake in the block to Eni, with CIP questioning the tax transparency of the deal. Meanwhile, Renamo generals have threatened to force Ossufo Momade to resign as party leader, citing his inability to address the demobilisation of former guerrillas and associated issues. In Cabo Delgado, a drug warehouse was mysteriously burned, and police recovered diverted aid products intended for Cyclone Freddy victims. Additionally, boys escaping from insurgent captivity in Cabo Delgado face rejection in their communities, while girls are welcomed as victims.

Tesla inks deal to get key battery component outside China

15 Jan 2022  |  Winnipeg Free Press
Tesla has signed an agreement with Australian company Syrah Resources to purchase graphite from its mine in Mozambique, aiming to reduce reliance on China. The deal involves Tesla buying 8,000 tons of graphite per year from Syrah's Louisiana processing plant starting in 2025. This move is part of Tesla's strategy to increase its battery production capacity in the U.S. amid a global race for electric vehicle manufacturing. The agreement is seen as a strategic step to shorten supply chains and secure raw materials for batteries, as demand for electric vehicles grows. Despite the deal, Tesla will continue to buy batteries from other manufacturers, including Panasonic. The partnership is also significant for Syrah Resources as it provides a non-Chinese buyer for its graphite, while Tesla continues to have a strong market presence in China.

Civilians reel as violence spins out of control in Mozambique

11 Nov 2020  |  www.aljazeera.com
Violence in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province is escalating with reports of beheadings and kidnappings by ISIL-linked fighters. Despite President Filipe Nyusi's visit and humanitarian assistance, the conflict continues unabated. The United Nations has called for investigations into the atrocities. The region's strategic importance is underscored by gas projects led by Total and ExxonMobil, which are now at risk. A development project by Yara was cancelled, highlighting the government's failure to leverage natural gas for domestic development. The conflict has killed over 2,000 people and displaced 355,000. Human rights abuses by both insurgents and government forces have been reported. Mozambique's government has created an economic development agency for the north, but with the ongoing violence and investor retreat, a resolution seems distant.

The Best South Africa Online Casino Bonuses for 2023

25 Jul 2017  |  Online Casino South Africa
The article discusses the online casino industry in South Africa, highlighting the best platforms for South African players. It emphasizes the importance of security, licensing, and regulation in choosing online casinos. The article also covers the types of games offered, the legality of online casinos, and the availability of casino bonuses. It provides insights into the gambling revenue in South Africa, which is expected to rise to R30 billion in 2019, and compares it with the gambling markets in Nigeria and Kenya. The article also touches on the challenges faced by the industry, including illegal online gambling and competition from other betting facilities. It concludes by noting the changing dynamics of the gambling industry in these regions and its correlation with economic conditions.

This was an exclusive I wrote for Zitamar News, the Mozambique-focused business publication that I founded with my wife in 2015.

Fishy finances

16 Jul 2016  |  The Economist
The article discusses Mozambique's looming debt crisis, highlighting the country's precarious financial situation exacerbated by a series of foreign-currency loans amounting to 15% of its GDP. The initial loan was intended for a fishing fleet but was mismanaged, leading to the state-owned tuna-fishing company EMATUM admitting it could not repay its debt. A government bond swap was arranged, but the discovery of Mozambique's secret borrowing of an additional $1.4 billion shocked the IMF and international donors, resulting in frozen aid disbursements. The situation is worsened by the resurgence of civil war, drought, and the slow development of oil and gas reserves. Credit Suisse and VTB face criticism for their role in arranging the bond sales without sufficient disclosure to investors.
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