Maputo — Mozambican geo-scientist Estevao Mhanjane has been elected a member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a technical body of the United Nations set up under the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The purpose of the Commission is to analyse proposals for extending the continental shelf of coastal states. Normally a country's exclusive economic zone extends for 200 nautical miles from the coast.
But a good number of states (including Mozambique) argue that their continental shelf goes beyond the 200 mile limit. In such cases the CLCS considers the data submitted by coastal states and makes recommendations.
These recommendations, however, are not binding and, according to the CLCS's own website "shall not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between states with opposite or adjacent coasts".
20 members of the Commission were elected for five year terms of office on 6-7 June. According to a source in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Mahanjane won 154 votes out of 161, and was third best placed among the African candidates. The other African countries which won seats on the Commission are Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya.
Mahanjane is an official of the Mineral Resources Ministry, currently working at the National Petroleum Institute. He is also studying for a postgraduate degree in Geophysical Research.
The Mozambican government argues that the country's continental shelf does indeed extend for more than 200 nautical miles. Currently the Mozambican continental shelf covers an area of 540,000 square kilometres. Mozambique's claim is for a further 136,000 square kilometres, bringing the total area up to 676,000 square kilometres.