Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza has called on donor nations to support Mozambique in its fight against poverty. The call came during President Guebuzas first official visit to Britain since his inauguration as President in February 2005.
Speaking on 4 December at Chatham House, the headquarters of the highly respected Royal Institute of International Affairs, President Guebuza pointed out "the fight against poverty has gained international prominence over the last decade. This recognition arises from the fact that the stability of the world cannot be assured in an increasingly interdependent planet with widespread human deprivation and suffering".
"In an interdependent world", President Guebuza added, "oases of prosperity surrounded by seas of abject human deprivation cannot be justified and defended, in the long run, by moral argument or by natural or artificial barriers, or even by force".
The President warned that "the affluent countries will eventually be confronted by the massive numbers of people who live in despair, famine, disease, by those who are denied opportunities to participate and earn their share in the world's prosperity".
"Such a state of affairs", he continued, "would become an ideal ground where armed conflicts, terrorism, illegal immigration, crime, disease and environmental disasters would flourish. These would impact negatively on the stability of the world and on the survival of humankind".
According to President Guebuza, the international community recognises that tackling human deprivation is not only a humanitarian act of solidarity, but also an effective investment.
The President took time to praise the role of Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, and his Finance Minister, Gordon Brown, for their leadership role on the Commission on Africa and in the G8 group of industrialised countries in 2005, which gave new commitments to step up support for poverty reduction in Africa.
President Guebuza stressed the need for Mozambicans to lead their country out of poverty. He quoted the first President of Frelimo, Eduardo Mondlane, who wrote "liberation is to us not simply a matter of expelling the Portuguese: it means reorganising the life of the country and setting it on the road to sound national development".
The President was optimistic that poverty could be tackled, stating "we strongly believe that with the right economic and social policies and with adequate support from our development partners, our hard-working people can successfully exploit the natural resources that our country is blessed with to defeat poverty"
President Guebuza stressed the importance of partnership with countries such as Britain, stating that "the international community played an important role in complementing the efforts by Mozambicans aimed at achieving peace and stability and placing the country on the road to economic and social progress".
In conclusion, President Guebuza declared "our people are determined to fight and win this battle. Our people, like the people of Britain, are convinced that we can make poverty history. The right not to be poor is a human right".
Later the President spoke at the Commonwealth Business Council, where he praised the strong business relationship between the two countries. Concluding his speech to a group of businessmen, President Guebuza promised "Mozambique is open for business".
The warm relations between Mozambique and Britain were further enhanced when on 5 December Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, praised Mozambique as an example to the rest of Africa that a combination of sound economic management and international support and funding can make a real difference. In particular, Blair drew attention to Mozambique's record in economic development, democracy, tackling poverty and maintaining stability.
This strong support came as the two leaders met for private talks, where discussions covered Mozambique's economic development and hopes for wider progress in Africa. They also discussed the delicate issue of Darfur and the need for African engagement to find a solution and a lasting peace.
Prime Minister Blair stressed the need for leaders of the G8 group of the world's most industrialised nations to implement promises made at the Scottish resort of Gleneagles last year. In response, President Guebuza gave his views on how the G8 under German chairmanship can provide further help to Africa. The meeting with Blair followed a formal audience with the British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
Although the figures for the final quarter are not yet available, the Mozambican economy is expected to grow by 7.9 per cent this year, the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, told the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 13 December.
Commodity exports between January and September reached $1.746 billion, said Cuereneia, which was 39 per cent greater than export earnings for the same period in 2005.
Three products - aluminium ingots, natural gas and electricity - account for 70 per cent of the country's exports. The ingots come from Mozambique's largest factory, the MOZAL aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo; the electricity from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi is sold to South Africa and Zimbabwe; while natural gas is produced by the South African petro-chemical giant Sasol in Inhambane province, and sent by pipeline to its plants in the South African town of Secunda. Most of the other 30 per cent of export earnings come from tobacco, prawns, sugar, cotton and cashew nuts.
Cuereneia put the inflation rate between January and November at 7.1 per cent. Thus to meet this year's target of an inflation rate no higher than 7.5 per cent, price rises this month must be no more than 0.4 per cent - which will be difficult to achieve, given the trend among Mozambican shops and businesses to push their prices during the festive season.
As for the Mozambican currency, the metical, in the first 11 months of the year it had depreciated by 5.8 per cent against the US dollar - but had gained in value, by 7.3 per cent, against the South African rand.
Turning to education, Cuereneia said that 526 new schools had been built making it possible to enrol 304,000 new pupils. 258 of these schools were for first level primary education (grades one to five), 194 were second level primary schools (grades six and seven), 60 were for the first cycle of secondary education (grades eight to ten) and 14 for the second, pre-university cycle (grades 11 and 12). 9,015 new teachers were recruited.
As for the battle against AIDS, Cuereneia said that, by the end of November, 38,000 patients were receiving the life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs. But there are now thought to be about 1.6 million HIV-positive Mozambicans, of whom around 250,000 will have reached the stage of the disease at which they should be taking anti-retrovirals.
Mozambique's achievements, Cuereneia told the deputies, were having a direct impact on the well being of the population, and providing "levels of economic growth that are a reference point for the African continent".
Cuereneia was presenting the economic and social plan for next year, characterised by continued high growth, and relatively low inflation.
The target for 2007 is a growth rate of seven per cent. Agriculture remains the major factor in the country's Gross Domestic Product, and is expected to grow by 12 per cent, particularly since normal to above normal rainfall is expected during the 2006-07 growing season.
The expected growth is not due to any rise in productivity, but to an increase in the area under cultivation. Thus the total area sown with grains is expected to rise by 17.7 per cent - from 2.3 million hectares to 2,7 million. The 2007 grain harvest is projected at 2.4 million tonnes, a 14.6 per cent increase on 2006. Most of this is maize: maize production is expected to rise by 15.3 per cent to 1.77 million tonnes. Cassava production is targeted to increase by 8.4 per cent to 8.18 million tonnes, while the production of beans should rise by 8.9 per cent to 239,000 tonnes.
As for export crops, a strong recovery is expected in cashew nuts. The cashew harvest fell by 13.6 per cent this year, to 62,821 tonnes. But in 2007 it is expected to rise to 75,000 tonnes (an increase of 19 per cent). Of this total, 38,550 tonnes will be processed in Mozambican factories, while the rest will be exported raw (to India).
Cotton production is forecast to rise by 10 per cent, to reach 110,000 tonnes. Sugar production will also rise by ten per cent: the country's four sugar mills are expected to produce over 308,000 tonnes.
Cuereneia said the mining industry will grow by 11 per cent. Half of this is growth in limestone quarrying. It also includes the first production from the Moma heavy mineral sands, in the northern province of Nampula. The Moma mine, run by the Irish company Kenmare, is expected to produce 389,000 tonnes of titanium ores in 2007.
The transport and communications sector is expected to grow by 14.2 per cent. Most of this growth is in road transport, and in the continued expansion of mobile telephone services.
Cuereneia said that the construction industry should grow by eight per cent, driven by a vast programme of road and bridge construction and maintenance.
The target for growth in manufacturing industry is 3.9 per cent. Since the MOZAL aluminium smelter has already reached close to its maximum capacity, industrial growth now comes from other sectors, notably clothing (27.9 per cent), food and drink (11.4 per cent), and tobacco processing (15 per cent).
Turning to the social sectors, Cuereneia said that 761 new schools will open in 2007 - 43 secondary schools and 718 primary schools.
The number of pupils should rise by 12.5 per cent, reaching 4.9 million. Of these, 3.95 million will be in first level primary education (grades one to five). 639,000 will be in second level primary schools (grades six and seven), about 308,000 in the first cycle of secondary education (grades eight to ten), and only 43,210 in the second, pre-university cycle (grades 11 and 12). For this expansion, a further 9,000 new teachers will be recruited. Cuereneia hoped that 37 per cent of these will be women.
A major drive against illiteracy is continuing, and Cuereneia said that 36,000 adult literacy teachers will be recruited in 2007.
As for the health service, 2007 will see a start made on building seven new rural hospitals, a general hospital in the southern city of Matola, three new health centres, and three health training institutions
The Ministry of Health also envisages a vast expansion in the provision of anti-retroviral therapy for people infected with HIV. As of the end of November, 38,000 patients were receiving the life-prolonging anti- retroviral drugs. The target is to push this up to 96,420 people by the end of 2007.
As for inflation, the government hopes to bring the annual rate down to six per cent in 2007.
Export earnings, Cuereneia said, should rise by nine per cent, to reach $2.292 billion. The government also planned to keep the country's net international reserves at a level sufficient to cover four months of imports.
As in previous years, the Mozambican state budget for 2007 remains heavily dependent on foreign grants and loans. Presenting the budget to the Assembly of the Republic on 13 December, Finance Minister Manuel Chang said that total state expenditure for 2007 will be 70.9 billion new meticais (about $2.8 billion). But total tax and other domestic revenue will only raise 32.5 billion meticais, leaving a deficit of 38.4 billion meticais to be covered by foreign aid.
Chang promised the Assembly that the financing of this deficit is already guaranteed. He expected donors and financing agencies to provide 13.7 billion meticais in direct support for the budget, and 24.7 billion in project support. Capital expenditure, he said, depended on funding agreements that have already been signed, and followed forecasts of annual disbursements.
The budget for running costs comes to 37.4 billion meticais, while the capital budget is for 33.5 billion. The government can only pay for 45.8 per cent of the total budget out of taxes and other domestic sources: the other 54.2 per cent will come from grants and loans.
Most of the budget is to be spent on the priority sectors for the government's Action Plan for the Relief of Absolute Poverty (PARPA II). Those priority sectors account for 68 per cent of the budget, excluding debt servicing and financial operations.
Education accounts for 22 per cent of the budget, the health service 12.4 per cent, and infrastructures 20.5 per cent. Defence costs have fallen to 2.3 per cent of the budget, while security and public order (essentially the police force) account for 5.6 per cent.
Debt servicing will consume almost 2.1 billion meticais, a substantial increase on the 2006 figure of 1.6 billion. This is seven per cent of recurrent expenditure (and 2.9 per cent of the entire budget).
Chang said the budget will allow the recruitment of 18,289 new state employees. Most of them - 10,378 will be employed by the Education Ministry, mainly as primary teachers. The health service will recruit 2,797 new workers, and there is enough money for 2,050 recruits to the police force.
The government plans to continue the policy of direct allocation of funds to the 128 rural districts for development projects. This began in 2006 when seven million meticais was given to each district.
Chang said the sum will increase in 2007, but this time not all districts will receive the same amount. Each district will still be allocated a basic seven million, but there will be an additional, so far unspecified, sum to be calculated in accordance with the size of the district, its population, and the poverty index of each province.
The Education Ministry has embarked on an Action Plan for Accelerated School Construction "with controlled costs, with community participation, and involving local contractors, NGOs, and all social forces willing and able to participate", declared Education Minister Aires Aly on 14 December.
Speaking in the debate in the Assembly of the Republic, on the government's plan and budget for 2007, Aly said that in the pilot phase of this accelerated school building project, that began in late 2005, 500 classrooms were built.
"That experience allowed us to draw lessons for the expansion phase, in order to maintain standards of quality and controlled costs", he said.
The expansion phase began this year, and so far a further 1,400 classrooms have been built. The programme will continue in 2007 with the same number of classrooms plus 250 houses for teachers.
This accelerated school construction, said Aly, had the aim of "decentralising building, so as to expand opportunities for access to education".
The government was also changing the teacher training system, in the hope that by 2010 it will be able to eliminate the need to recruit teachers who have no training. The main change is to shorten primary teacher training courses from two years to just one, but backed up with distance learning modules, and strengthened school supervision and inspection.
This should enable the teacher training colleges to graduate over 6,000 primary school teachers a year instead of the current figure of 3,500.
Aly said that currently there are over 4.8 million children in Mozambican schools, over 4.25 million of them in primary schools. But there are still over half a million children aged between six and 12 who are not attending school.
He also stressed the need to improve the pupil-teacher ratio. "The government cannot be content when teachers are working with classes of 70 pupils or more", Aly said.
Much of Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, has been devastated by a storm that hit the city with, according to the National Meteorological Institute, 202 millimetres of rain falling between 20.00 on 11 December and 15.00 on 12 December.
The waters invaded homes in several of the poorer suburbs of Beira, forcing families to spend the night in the rain, in the open. Pit latrines were flooded, raising the spectre of epidemics of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
Speaking on Mozambican Television the mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, said at least two children drowned, swept away by powerful currents of water.
The storm has also knocked down trees and electricity pylons, and huge craters were opened in some roads. Residents in the Munhava-Central neighbourhood told reporters of water one and a half meters deep inside their homes.
As for the rice fields planted in the Beira green belt, it is feared that the rain will do more harm than good, sweeping away the crops.
In a message sent to the governor of Sofala province, Alberto Vaquina, President Armando Guebuza expressed his solidarity with the victims, and pledged the government's support. He stated "we are sure that, by appealing to their self-esteem, and with the assistance of the government, other institutions, and people of good will, the victims will be able to overcome this drama".
The director of the government's relief agency, the Natural Disasters Management Institute (INGC), Paulo Zucula, visited Beira to assess the situation, and declared "the major problem we fear is an outbreak of cholera. The danger is great, because the latrines were submerged. All care should be taken, and we're working on this".
Ten tanks, each with a capacity to hold 5,000 litres of water, were sent from Maputo to Beira. 500 boxes of chlorine tables (containing a total of 25,000 tablets) are available to disinfect wells. Chlorine in sachets and other forms has also been sent to Beira.
A project to build a pipeline to link Maputo port to the industrial area of the South African province of Mpumalanga will cost an estimated $537 million, and would have the capacity to transport about five million cubic metres of fuel a year.
The contract to build the pipeline was signed in Maputo between the Mozambican government and the Petroline consortium on 1 December. The consortium includes the Mozambican oil company Petromoc which holds 40 per cent of the shares, the South African Gigajoule company with 20 per cent, a group of Mozambican business people holding 15 per cent, and a group of South African business people linked to the energy sector with 25 per cent.
In 2006 Mozambique's sugar exports hit their highest level for 33 years. According to data released by the Agriculture Promotion Centre (CEPAGRI), this year the country's four sugar companies exported 175,837 tonnes of sugar, which earned $67.3 million.
CEPAGRI Director Roberto Albino told reporters that this years exports represent a 78.5 per cent increase on the earnings from sugar exports in 2005. He attributed this to additional requests from the preferential markets (notably the European Union and the United States), and to higher sugar prices.
CEPAGRI's figures show that in 2006 the country produced slightly more than two million tonnes of cane, from which the industries produced 242,525 tonnes of sugar and 69,128 tonnes of molasses.
The sugar companies sold 140,000 tonnes on the domestic market. In principle, the companies can supply the entire Mozambican market - but they still face competition from sugar smuggled into Mozambique from neighbouring countries. In 2006, an estimated 10,000 tonnes of contraband sugar entered Mozambique, mostly from Zimbabwe and Malawi. These illegal imports cost the Mozambican sugar industry the equivalent of about a million dollars.
Despite the good export results, total production was actually less than in 2005, when the four companies produced 265,000 tonnes of sugar. Plans to produce 279,000 tonnes this year were frustrated partly because of irregular rainfall, and partly because of electricity problems affecting irrigation pumps. The sugar producers also believe that heavy rains at inappropriate times of the year reduced the sugar content of the cane.
Preliminary forecasts for 2007 are that cane production will reach 2.5 million tonnes, allowing the companies to produce 292,000 tonnes of sugar and 85,000 tonnes of molasses.
Continued expansion is planned, and by 2012 the companies hope to be producing around 500,000 tonnes of sugar.
The four operational sugar plantations and mills are at Xinavane and Maragra in Maputo province, and at Marromeu and Mafambisse in the central province of Sofala. Between them in 2006 these companies employed 20,695 workers.
This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
email: Mozambique News Agency
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