Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Thursday that oil and gas deposits had been discovered in Muzarabani, in the Mashonaland Central province of Northern Zimbabwe. He revealed this at an emergency press conference in the capital Harare while addressing the nation.
The oil deposits were discovered by Invictus Energy Limited, an Australian Mining company. Mnangagwa called the discovery an “important news for Zimbabwe”. According to Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister, the 200 km oil deposit area is the largest oil reserve in Africa so far. Presently, Libya is considered to have the largest oil reserves in Africa. Zimbabwe’s claims have yet to be confirmed.
Comments from President Emerson Mnangagwa seemed to suggest oil exploration in that part of the country had been in progress for a while. “Invictus is utilizing data which was generated by Mobil Oil in the early 1990s when extensive oil and gas geo work was undertaken in the great Muzarabani area. We have since been advised by Invictus that the findings are positive and point to gas and oil deposits,” he said. Drilling and exploration of oil could start by 2020 if Zimbabwe’s energy ministry manages to secure funding,
This news could not have come at a better time for Zimbabwe. The country is currently facing a shortage of many household items, including fuel. The country last month experienced its worst shortage of wheat in 10 years, with many stores rationing the sales of bread to customers after production fell by half. And after the government increased the tax on electronic transactions to two cents on the dollar, there was widespread confusion as it triggered increases in prices of goods and services around the country and an increase in fuel prices.
A cholera outbreak in September also shone a light on the dearth of infrastructure in Zimbabwe, after decades of negligence under former president Robert Mugabe who stepped down last year as a result of pressure from the Zimbabwean army. More than 50,000 people were affected by the ‘medieval’ cholera outbreak, with 30 of them dying, the worst disease epidemic in the country since another cholera outbreak in 2008. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube set up an emergency crowdfund for Zimbabweans to help fund treatment of the cholera outbreak, drawing criticism from many people.
Oil drilling in Zimbabwe will definitely lead to an array of different opportunities for Zimbabwe including the revival of some of the industries in the country, and an upgrade of its infrastructures. Industries that could witness some revival include its transportation industry, energy industry as well as research. However, most importantly, it will lead to the creation of many jobs in a country where youth unemployment is allegedly at 90 percent.