President Joaquim Chissano, who is also the current chairman of the African Union, declared in Rome on 16 April that Europe cannot remain indifferent to the multiple problems plaguing the African continent. Speaking at the opening of an international meeting, organised by the Rome municipality, on the theme "Africa and Europe: A Common Destiny", President Chissano said that no country in the world, no matter how prosperous, can sustain itself for very long if it is surrounded by oceans of misery and despair.
President Chissano argued that helping Africa face its problems is also to invest in the stability of Europe. But he stressed that government aid is far from the only solution. "Private foreign investment, based on a win-win principle, can be a stimulus for development", he declared.
Although he believed that the current relations between Europe and Africa are healthy, Chissano thought that much remained to be done, bearing in mind the potential of the two continents.
He took as one example the question of Africa's foreign debt: Africa and Europe should work together, he said, to reverse the current trend in which enormous sums of money, which Africa so greatly needs for its own development, and which result from the hard work of its people, serve merely to service its debts. "Africa has become a net exporter of capital", Chissano pointed out. "This trend must be reversed in the interest of Europe itself".
Chissano called for a more active cooperation between Europe and Africa, resting on NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development). The two continents, he urged, should commit themselves to the permanent and constructive political dialogue that was promised in 2000, at the first Africa-Europe summit held in Cairo. "Thus our commitment to the implementation of NEPAD is total", said Chissano.
He praised the European Union's support for NEPAD, and said that, within the framework of NEPAD, projects in railways, energy and natural gas, among others, are taking place across the continent, in an exercise intended to pull Africa out of its poverty and marginalisation.
At the Cairo summit, Africa and Europe drew up a common agenda which has been the main instrument for dialogue and bilateral interaction. Chissano said that agenda remained valid despite the difficulties - which he believed could be overcome - that had led to the postponement sine die of the second summit between the two continents.
That meeting was to have been held in Lisbon in 2003. But European Union policy is not to issue invitations to the Zimbabwean government of President Robert Mugabe, held responsible for gross human rights violations. But if Zimbabwe did not attend the Lisbon summit, other African countries would boycott - hence the postponement.
Chissano also said that Africa has recorded progress in democratisation and good governance, mentioning in particular the regular holding of elections. This year alone elections have taken place, or are scheduled, in 15 of Africa's 54 countries (including Mozambique).
Chissano believed that similar advances had taken place in conflict prevention, management and resolution. Examples could be cited from Burundi, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Somali and Angola where conflicts had either been solved, or were on the way to a solution.
He stressed his appreciation for the aid which the EU has provided for institutions linked to the promotion of human rights and good governance, and hoped that this would be continued and expanded.
David Alone, head of the office of Renamo's leader Afonso Dhlakama has been sacked, announced Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga on 14 April.
Mazanga did not announce any replacement and gave no reason. However, in a report of 6 April, the independent newsheet "Diario de Noticias" stated that Alone had been hauled before a commission of inquiry set up by Dhlakama. He was accused of inducing Dhlakama to issue a credential to a "phoney collaborator" in Europe and of establishing a "strategic alliance" with senior figures in Frelimo.
Alone, one of the few intellectuals in the Renamo leadership, remains a member of the Renamo parliamentary group, and of the parliament's governing board, its standing commission.
Mazanga announced a series of other changes. A former Renamo general, Ossufo Momade, is transferred from his job as political delegate in Nampula province to head the Renamo department for social affairs and demobilised troops in the national secretariat.
Angelina Enoque, who also sits on the parliamentary standing commission, becomes head of the Renamo education department. Artur Vilanculos becomes head of the foreign affairs department. Cornelio Quivela is removed as Renamo delegate in Cabo Delgado province following disagreements with former guerrillas in January, and is replaced by former Renamo general secretary Vicente Ululu.
The changes also include the sacking of four other Renamo provincial delegates - Celestino Bento (Tete province), Bonifacio Nicasse (Zambezia), Antonio Muchanga (Gaza) and Lazaro Ernesto (Maputo). No replacements were announced.
President Joaquim Chissano declared on 9 April that he is convinced China will transfer the modern technologies it possesses to Mozambique, and to other African countries, so that they may develop more rapidly.
Speaking during visits to parts of China's most technologically advanced city, Shanghai, President Chissano said he was sure that China was willing to share its technologies, given its long tradition as a country that was concerned not only for its own well-being, but also for that of other peoples.
Chinese solidarity, and China's willingness to support other peoples was more than proved by its past, claimed Chissano, citing in particular Chinese assistance for Mozambique's struggle to overthrow Portuguese colonial-fascism. "So we are pleased when we see these technological advances in China, because we are sure that we in Africa will also benefit from them", said Chissano, a few hours before finishing his six day visit to China.
Chissano urged the Chinese authorities to increase the number of scholarships offered to Mozambicans, particularly in architecture, so that one day Mozambique could build cities as modern as the ones he had seen in China "where working and living is a pleasure".
Once again Chissano stressed that Mozambique has a great deal to offer to the Chinese businesses that wish to invest there. He cited the abundance of arable land, and the country's mineral wealth, much of which has yet to be surveyed, let alone exploited.
Chinese company to produce anti-retrovirals
During the official visit, it was announced that a private pharmaceutical company based in Shanghai hopes to build a factory in Mozambique making anti-retroviral drugs this year. These drugs make AIDS manageable and prolong the lives of AIDS sufferers.
Shanghai Desano Pharmaceuticals Holdings Ltd., says that, if its drugs are used, the cost of treating a Mozambican AIDS patient will drop from the current figure of $600 a year to less than $200.
The cost of the pharmaceutical plant is estimated at $2 million, and will be a joint venture between Shanghai Desano Pharmaceuticals, Italian partners, and some Mozambican business people.
Support for mega-projects
During the visit the Mozambican delegation revealed that the Chinese government is prepared to support the building of mega-projects in Mozambique, such as dams, irrigation systems and others that will enhance socio-economic development of the country.
Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao told reporters in Beijing on 12 April that the Chinese are prepared to help raise the necessary money and provide the technology to carry out such undertakings.
Another issue under discussion is the possibility of the Chinese government financing the reactivation of the Moatize coal mines, in the western province of Tete province, and resuming construction of the Mocuba textile factory, in the central province of Zambezia.
Simao said that the next step is to set up teams of experts to study in detail the feasibility and the costs of the undertakings and take the appropriate decisions.
He said that to formalise these intentions, President Chissano and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, signed a new economic and technical cooperation agreement. This cooperation covers areas such as agriculture, education, health, and mining.
Simao said that, as part of the existing cooperation programme between the two countries, China has announced a donation worth about $3.6 million.
Donors have promised the Mozambican education ministry $98 million to support projects over the coming year, despite the recent scandal over the abuse of Swedish aid money by the ministry.
This sum was announced on 16 April after a one day meeting between Education Minister Alcido Nguenha and the donors, including Sweden. The meeting also discussed the programme of a "Parity Committee" between the government and the donors that is to accompany implementation of the Strategic Plan for Education.
Nguenha regarded the meeting as very productive, and a "gigantic step forward" in the partnership between the Ministry and its foreign partners.
Speaking of the freely distributed school text books, he said work was under way in coordination with private businesses to ensure that the books reach everywhere in the country. He said that those dishonest traders who are selling these books are sabotaging the work of the Ministry.
Nguenha also announced a pilot literacy and adult education project using radio and television. This project will start in three provinces (Maputo, Manica and Nampula), using the public radio and television stations, and will later be spread to the rest of the country. In the second phase, community radios will also be used.
Nguenha brushed aside questions about the Swedish money and the scholarships that had gone to members of his own family, alleging that this was only of interest to the media.
Julie Reviere, speaking for the donors, said that this sort of meeting is a mechanism that guarantees far-reaching dialogue between the government and its partners. She said that despite the polemic over the scholarships, the donors are still very interested in cooperating with the Ministry.
The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) recently demanded the return of 1.7 million Swedish crowns (about $250,000) of aid money, after an audit discovered that it had been used for purposes outside of the agreement between the Education Ministry and SIDA.
This included the granting of 33 scholarships. The audit report from the company Ernst & Young noted that these scholarships could not contribute to the stated goal of strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry, since 80 per cent of them went to people who did not work at the Ministry. These included three of Nguenha's close relatives (two children and a brother).
The report noted that there was no sign that any of the scholarship-holders had signed contracts with the Ministry, and hence no guarantee that the scholarships would bring any benefit to the Ministry.
The European Commission has promised to provide €1.9 million (about $2.3 million) to support the summit of heads of state of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) group, due to be held in Maputo in June.
According to Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao, speaking at on 20 April, a proposal that 72 billion meticais (about $3 million) of state funds should be spent on the summit is to go before the Mozambican cabinet.
He said that the European Commission money is a grant, under the cooperation between the European Union and the ACP group.
The cabinet, Simao added, will shortly approve detailed budgets, not only for the ACP summit, but for two other forthcoming events in Maputo, the World Economic Summit for Africa, and a meeting of the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) Implementation Committee.
The ACP summit is scheduled for 22-25 June, and in principle will be attended by heads of state and government, or their representatives, from over 70 countries.
The meeting of heads of state and government who sit on the NEPAD Implementation Committee will take place on 22 May, while the WEF meeting is set for 2-4 June.
Simao expected the government to spend 28 billion meticais on the latter event. These meetings, the minister said, "are further opportunities to display the country and to share with others the good things we have".
He said he was impressed by the praise Mozambique has been receiving from other countries because of the hospitable treatment given to the delegations that attended the African Union summit in Maputo in July 2003. He was confident that this year's events will also be successful.
The World Economic Forum, he said, is an annual meeting of people linked to business, including potential investors, some heads of state and government, and academics, who discuss questions concerning investment. Simao believed that such meetings establish conditions for "a permanent atmosphere of dialogue between governments and investors".
By hosting this event, the government hoped to put Maputo on the map of places where questions of economic development, through public-private partnerships, are discussed.
"Our efforts in the struggle against poverty cannot be successful merely through donations, but through investments that create jobs", said Simao.
The Mozambican government has increased the country's statutory minimum wage by slightly more than the 2003 inflation rate. The minimum wage for industry, services and the civil service rises by 14 per cent - from 982,717 to 1,120,297 meticais (from $41 to $46.7) a month.
Agricultural workers are paid much less than industrial workers, and government strategy has been gradually to narrow this gap. So the minimum wage for agricultural workers rises by 15 per cent - from 700,314 to 805,361 meticais (from $29.2 to $33.6) a month.
The government has decreed that in the public service ther will be a 14 per cent rise for all low paid workers in the state apparatus and a ten percent rise for public servants earning more than 1,976,000 meticais a month.
The minimum statutory wage is negotiated in a tripartite Consultative Council, between the trade unions, the employers' associations, and the government. After reaching a deadlock, the trade unions and the employers agreed to leave the decision in the hands of the government.
The Indian government has decided to cancel all Mozambican public debt to India, amounting to about $3.8 million. According to a note from the Mozambican Foreign Ministry, the Indian government has also expressed its willingness to discuss possible alternatives for dealing with private debt, estimated at $6 million. Under current Mozambican legislation, this could include conversion of the debt into investment.
India has also made available a line of credit of $20 million, intended to promote projects that will import goods and services from India. This form of tied aid comes with a total repayment period of 20 years, a period of grace of five years, and annual interest of 1.75 per cent.
In order to use the funds available from this line of credit, some Indian companies, in partnership with Mozambican businesses, are drawing up projects in such areas as rural electrification, and the pharmaceutical and food industries.
India has also agreed to work with the Mozambican government in joint patrols of the Mozambican coast that began during the heads of state summit of the African Union, held in Maputo in July 2003.
According to a source in the Mozambican Foreign Ministry, the two countries have also begun to negotiate a bilateral agreement in the defence sphere, and are studying mechanisms for establishing partnerships under which the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) will be supplied with foodstuffs and uniforms.
In the area of higher education, three Mozambican students have been attending a course on information and communication technologies in the Indian city of Bangalore since 2003. Another 16 Mozambican students are due to begin university level courses in agriculture and livestock in India as from August this year.
Under the existing cooperation agreement with India, the Mozambican government also intends to recruit 39 Indian doctors of various specialisms. A team from the Mozambican Health Ministry has gone to India to interview candidates. The Ministry hopes that the doctors will be able to start working in Mozambique by June.
Mozambican health units treated almost 4.5 million cases of malaria in 2003, of which 3,212 died. According to statistics from the Health Ministry the province with the largest number of deaths, 627, was Nampula in the north, followed by Maputo City, with 417.
The Ministry stressed that it only has figures for people who died of malaria while in hospital. So the figures do not include those who never made it to a health post or hospital in the first place, and died at home.
"To face this challenge, the government has adopted a new malaria treatment policy, involving the simultaneous use of two or more anti-malarial drugs in the health units, and the use of chloroquine inside the communities, because this drug is still effective in rural areas, where the level of resistance is still low", said the Ministry statement.
According to the Ministry, major advocacy work is under way within civil society to put the question of malaria and its prevention on the agenda of all sectors of activity. The statement also recognised the "tireless work" of the media in covering the malaria issue.
A study is now under way on the viability of building a fuel pipeline from the northern port of Nacala to landlocked Malawi, and is expected to be concluded later this year.
According to Transport Minister Tomas Salomao, after the study, the engineering and financial consultants for the undertaking will make recommendations to the Mozambican and Malawian governments on the project's viability, and on its potential to supply not merely Malawi, but also Zambia and perhaps parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The building of a pipeline, similar to the one in central Mozambique between the port of Beira and Zimbabwe, was recommended during the February 2003 Nacala Corridor investors' conference, held in the city of Nampula.
"A large and thorough study is being undertaken", Salomao said. "I think we shall be successful in this bilateral undertaking, since Mozambique and Malawi have common characteristics as regards the major challenges they both face - to defeat poverty, and to create opportunities for development and growth. So we shall continue to carry out, with responsibility, the undertakings we gave to the investors' conference".
To make the Nacala Development Corridor a reality, there are a series of "anchor projects" on both the Mozambican and Malawian sides of the border. These projects are designed to complement the Nacala-Malawi railway.
The Nacala Corridor dominated the discussions held earlier in April in Maputo between President Joaquim Chissano and his Malawian counterpart, Bakili Muluzi.
The dossier of projects on the Mozambican side include the exploitation (by the Irish firm Kenmare Resources) of the heavy mineral sands in Moma district, the Nacala port Industrial Free Zone, the Gile and Mecula nature reserves (in Zambezia and Niassa provinces respectively), as well as a project to develop the tourist potential of the northern most province of Cabo Delgado.
On the Malawian side, there are hopes to exploit further the tourist potential of Lake Niassa. The Malawian authorities are also anxious to import electricity produced at the Cahora Bassa dam in the western Mozambican province of Tete.
The Nacala line proved how important it was to Malawi during the recent southern African drought. During this emergency, the railway became a lifeline, transporting 265,000 tonnes of foodstuffs to Malawi.
The cost of the projects identified during the investors' conference is in excess of a billion dollars. The Moma heavy sands projects alone requires an investment of $250 million.
President Joaquim Chissano on 1 April met with the chairman of the Brazilian mining giant, the Companhia do Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), Roger Agnelli, to discuss the possibilities of reactivating coal production at the Moatize mines in the western province of Tete.
After the meeting, Agnelli told reporters that the geological viability studies, the size of the resources, and the useful life of the mines are all highly promising. But Agnelli said that further studies are required to assess just how much investment is required.
He stressed the synergies between coal mining and the iron and steel industry, pointing out that many of the world major steel companies are CVRD clients.
The time was ripe to revive the Moatize mines, he thought, since countries such as China would be willing to purchase large amounts of this high quality coal. But he could give no time frame for possible CVRD investment in Moatize. Further studies on the extent of the coal reserves could last another six months, he thought.
The real stumbling block is how to transport Moatize coal to the sea. The railway from Moatize to the port of Beira, the Sena line, was sabotaged by Renamo rebels in the 1980s, and no trains have run along it for two decades.
The government has organised an international tender to select the consortium that will rebuild, and later operate, the line. In the meantime, using $11 million of its own funds, the Mozambican port and rail company, CFM, is rebuilding the first stretch of the railway, the 90 kilometres between Dondo and Muanza.
The owners of two foreign fishing boats recently seized by the authorities in Mozambican waters off the coast of the central province of Sofala, have been fined 16 billion meticais (about $667,000), and their illicit catch has been confiscated, reports "Noticias" on 20 April.
The offenders requested an extension of the initial eight days deadline they had been given to pay the fine, and Fisheries Minister Cadmiel Muthemba allowed them a further five days, but again they failed to pay. Thus, the Fisheries Ministry has decided to resort to legal mechanisms to collect the money. This could mean that the two vessels will be confiscated and sold to the highest bidder.
The two Asian ships, one registered in Indonesia, and the other in China, had been licensed to fish for tuna, but they were caught with about 70 tonnes of shark, plus unlicensed fishing equipment, which was also confiscated.
The assistant national director of fisheries, Francisco Bomba, told reporters on Monday that the seized cargo of shark is to be sold at public action, and the unlicensed equipment will be destroyed. He said that if no buyer is interested in shark meat, the cargo will be offered to charitable institutions.
Shark fins are highly appreciated in the Asian market, where they sell for about $118 a kilo.
The illegal fishing was detected thanks to cooperation between the Mozambican and South African authorities as part of a seven year maritime inspection programme being implemented under a programme of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) since March 2001.
The programme aims at creating regional capacity to fight against piracy, and at harmonising the inspection methods and the management of maritime resources in the region.
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