Mozambique-India joint working group on defence back on track to tackle terrorism, drug trade

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  • Both countries agree a joint working group on defence will counter terrorism, drug trafficking and promote trade.
  • India has gifted Mozambique with two Fast Interceptor Crafts for surveillance in the Indian Ocean.
  • China's competing interests in the Indian Ocean pose a threat to India's relationship with Mozambique. 

Mozambique and India intend to revive its joint working group on defence as part of counter-terrorism efforts and at the same time  promote their respective blue economies and curtail drug trafficking. 

This was agreed on during the visit to Maputo by India's deputy national security advisor Vikram Misri, where he met the country's ministry of defence and interior security officials last Friday.

The joint working group on defence was initially activated in 2006, but only met twice in nine years, leading to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi, in 2015, pledging to step up its operations.

However, since then, nothing much had been done through the working group.

In a communique, the High Commission of India in Mozambique, said: "The two sides agreed on the need for the early convening of the meeting of the joint working group on defence. There was a convergence between the two sides in the strategic space including cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, illegal narco-trafficking, de-radicalisation, and maritime security."

Early this year, India gave Mozambique two high-speed boats used in military, patrol, and rescue operations at sea - they were launched into the Indian Ocean last week.

"The deputy national security advisor also formally launched the two additional Fast Interceptor Crafts that were earlier gifted by the government of India to Mozambique," the High Commission said.

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Fast Interceptor Crafts are famed for their use by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) maritime law enforcement with jurisdiction over its territorial waters, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.

Mozambique is India's strategic partner in the blue economy - defined by the World Bank as the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem".

But the blue economy relationship between India and Mozambique was threatened by China's competing interests in the Indian Ocean.

According to the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian think tank, "India's comprehensive maritime strategy in the region is driven by its aspiration for sea control to counter Beijing's expanding blue-water naval capabilities".

A February report by the Global Initiative Against Transitional Organised Crime in conjunction with the Hanns Seidel Foundation titled - "Insurgency and Illicit Markets: The Cabo Delgado conflict and its regional implication" - noted that drug trafficking routes had adopted the new normal caused by conflict.

"Trafficking routes through northern Mozambique are resilient and have adapted to the new security situation. This includes routes shifting away from areas where insurgents hold territory and conflict is most intense. For example, drug trafficking routes have moved south through southern Cabo Delgado and Nampula."

India's promise to help Mozambique combat drug trafficking, came against the backdrop of about 394 suspects arrested in Maputo between April 2021 and March this year with an estimated 82kgs of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, confiscated.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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