Friday, 28 September 2007

Discourse analysis in Mozambique

I could spend my whole life doing discourse analysis of Mozambican newspapers - or of any paper for that matter -, for the fun of it. I arrived yesterday and had my first sip of the news during breakfast this morning, and that was enough to cheer me up. (Am I becoming cynical, goodness? No, please...)

The headline reads Mphanda Nkuwa avanca em 2009, meaning the Mphanda Nkuwa progresses in 2009. Mphanda Nkuwa is the name of a prospective dam to be built on the Zambezi River, in the province of Tete.

According to the International Rivers Network (IRN) website, more than 30 large dams have already been constructed throughout the Zambezi basin. Now, the Mozambican government is proposing to build the Mphanda Nkuwa Dam 60km downstream from the Cahora Bassa Dam. It is seems that it will "progress in 2009", whatever that means.

According the IRN, the dam would produce as much as 1,300MW of electricity while the newspaper says 1,500. The IRN says the cost of the dam will be $2 billion while the newspaper says 1.6. The proposed dam is a priority infrastructure project under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which is promoting Mphanda Nkuwa for increased supply of the regional electricity grid, primarily for industrial supply.

Brazilians are present through the Camargo Correia company, which has a very interesting history of involvement with dam construction during the military dictatorship (see casos de denuncia) in Brazil.

Besides environmental concerns, there seem to be great economic risks. If the Mozambican government finds it difficult to secure buyers for Mphanda Nkuwa’s electricity, it is unclear who will foot the bill. The worst–case scenario could be the same fate as Cahora Bassa: selling the dam’s hydroelectricity to South Africa’s utility, Eskom, at below cost because there is not enough local demand.

Another pearl found during the same breakfast reading was the caption of a picture of the demonstrations in Myanmar: "military personnel advising people to remain at home". Advising???

And a reader's letter tittled "Abduction of minors must be discouraged". It is about the need to "discourage" the selling of children in Maputo.

I could go on and on, but I have to work! Cheers to all of you.