Mozambique News Agency
The Mozambican government and the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on 13 July signed an agreement under which the MCC will make a total of $506.9 million available to Mozambique over the next five years.
The money is mostly to be spent on water supply, sanitation and roads in four provinces north of the Zambezi River (Zambezia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa).
The agreement was signed at the US State Department by Planning and Development Minister, Aiuba Cuereneia, and the MCC Chief Executive Officer, John Danilovich. Witnessing the signing ceremony were President Armando Guebuza and the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte.
President Guebuza took the opportunity to praise his American counterpart, George W. Bush, "for his various initiatives in support of Africa" - including the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which the MCC administers, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
President Guebuza said the MCA grant encourages the Mozambican government in its fight against poverty, since this large sum, applied in the north of the country could be of great significance in overcoming regional imbalances.
The President added that he felt "happy and proud that Mozambique has been included in this programme, because we know that if countries have qualified, it is because they have demonstrated their commitment to govern justly and to invest in their people to promote economic freedom".
Mozambique is the twelfth country to benefit from MCA finance, although 41 countries have been declared eligible.
Danilovich gave a breakdown of how the money will be spent. The largest component, accounting for $203.6 million, is water and sanitation. The road component has been allotted $176.3 million, while $39.1 million will be spent on measures to improve land tenure services. A further $17.4 million is earmarked for supporting farmers whose income depends on coconut palms, currently suffering from an epidemic of lethal yellowing disease. Infected trees will be destroyed and replaced, and farmers will be encouraged to diversify into other crops.
The rest of the money is for programme management, capacity building and technical assistance.
Danilovich said that by 2015, the MCC will have disbursed $3.5 billion to support projects in the countries that have so far qualified.
President Guebuza later told the Mozambican journalists accompanying his visit that the four provinces where the funding will be spent were chosen by the Mozambican government, and took into account that they were among the less developed regions of the country. President Guebuza estimated that about 5.7 million Mozambicans will benefit, in one way or another, from the infrastructures that will be built.
During his US visit President Guebuza also met with the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, and the new President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.
Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, has jettisoned the minor parties allied to it in the "Electoral Union" coalition, and intends to stand alone in the forthcoming provincial elections.
Since preparations for the provincial elections were now under way, the Electoral Union parties had decided to discuss amongst themselves how they would participate.
The leaders of the minor parties depended on Renamo's goodwill to enter parliament, and without it there is little likelihood that they will win any seats at all in future elections is faint.
President Armando Guebuza on 20 July inaugurated a new water supply system for the city of Quelimane, capital of the central province of Zambezia, which cost over 320 million meticais (about $13 million). The new system will benefit 70,000 people.
The system is based on a well field in Nicoadala district, about 30 kilometres from Quelimane. It guarantees that Quelimane will be supplied with drinking water for 24 hours a day. The amount of water pumped to the city and the surrounding areas rises from 4,800 to 12,000 cubic metres a day.
It replaces a system that was based on just four wells in Licuari, on the outskirts of the city, which only provided enough water for eight per cent of the city's population for eight hours a day.
Funds for the new system comes from a World Bank loan to the government's Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG). It covers not only the Nicoadala well field, but also a treatment station, a reservoir holding 2,000 cubic metres of water, and 40 kilometres of water main. The nearby town of Nicoadala will also benefit from the new system.
The building work was in the hands of a Chinese contractor, the Sino-hydro Corporation. Construction involved relocating 88 families (out of a total of 600 who were affected by the project) at a cost of $1.1 million. The families concerned were provided with new houses and fields, plus a supply of food aid, and seeds for the next planting season.
State institutions in Maputo owe 500 million meticais (about $20 million) in unpaid water bills, according to a report in "Mediafax" on 17 July.
Jose Adriano, the spokesperson for the private consortium Aguas de Mocambique (AM), which manages the Maputo water supply, said that some of the bills have been unpaid for eight years.
Adriana warned that "any client, public or private, who has a water supply contract with AM, is obliged to pay the bill at the end of the month, or run the risk of disconnection".
Most of the major debtors in Maputo, he said, were state institutions, particularly ministries. Adriano found this strange, "since every year they have a budget to pay for these expenses".
AM's tolerance had reached its limits. Adriano said "we are sending letters to the ministries and other debtor institutions, warning that if they do not pay their bills within the next 15 days we shall cut off their water supply".
Not every state institution forgets to pay its water bills. Adriano praised President Armando Guebuza's office, and the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. These were up to date with paying for their water and thus set "the best example for other public institutions".
The strike by seasonal workers at the Mafambisse sugar plantation in the central province of Sofala, ended on 19 July with an agreement on wage rises of between 16 and 26 per cent.
Those who started the strike, which broke out before dawn on 16 July, were the cane cutters, who were demanding that their wages be increased from 66 to 100 meticais (from $2.60 to $3.90) a day.
They accepted a rise to 92 meticais a day during negotiations with the management on 17 July - but the other agricultural sectors, encouraged by the cane cutters' victory, continued the strike.
The two sides on 19 July agreed to a 16 per cent rise for the better-off plantation workers, whose wages go up from 62 to 72 meticais per day. Those who were only earning 44 meticais a day received a 26 per cent rise, and their wages are now 55.55 meticais a day. The demand from the two groups had been 95 and 85 meticais a day. The wage rise is backdated to 1 July.
Negotiations are to continue on other problems, including a claim by workers that their foremen extort money from them by threatening to have them sacked unless they pay up. Workers who handle fertilizers and pesticides are also demanding a free supply of milk.
The Mafambisse company is owned by the South African Tongaat Hulett group.
The Italian government has pledged €11.4 million (about $16 million) for direct support to the Mozambican state budget for the next three years.
An agreement was signed in Maputo on 11 July between Italian deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema and Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu.
Speaking at the ceremony, Abreu said that this money would help the government implement its poverty reduction strategy.
For his part, D'Alema said that his government is happy with the consolidation of peace and democracy, and the economic advances Mozambique has made in recent years.
The two ministers also signed an agreement on cultural, scientific and technological cooperation. This cooperation would focus particularly on environmental protection, basic science, agriculture, health, and information and communication technology.
During his one-day visit, the first by an Italian foreign minister for 14 years, D'Alema also met with Prime Minister Luisa Diogo. A source in the Italian delegation said D'Alema asked Prime Minister Diogo for Mozambique's support for an Italian appeal, to be made at the United Nations General Assembly, for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world.
President Armando Guebuza on 20 July praised the role of women in the struggles to free southern Africa from foreign rule, racist regimes and apartheid.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting of ministers responsible for women's affairs and gender of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries, President Guebuza declared that the liberation of the region had depended on the participation of women, marching alongside men. "Many of these fighters underwent savage torture and colonial humiliation. But they did not give up", he declared.
Although they faced imprisonment, forced labour and exile, they retained their dignity and determination, stressed President Guebuza, "proud of the historic mission imposed by their peoples".
"Thanks to these women and the role they played for our liberation, what yesterday seemed a mirage is today a reality", he declared. "We are proud of these achievements and they inspire us for the battles of the present and the future".
Among the battles of today, President Guebuza stressed the struggle against hunger, poverty and endemic disease.
"Just as in the past, so today women have a significant role to play so that we can emerge victorious from these new challenges", said President Guebuza.
He added that the SADC Heads of State Declaration on Gender and Development, adopted in 1997, opened opportunities "for women's greater participation in the regional and national challenges of the moment".
The meeting will discuss proposals for a SADC Protocol on Gender, which will effectively transform the Heads of States' Declaration into a legal instrument. The SADC Executive Secretary, Tomas Salomao, told the gathering that progress in drafting the protocol "has moved at a phenomenal pace".
He said that "reducing poverty and achieving human rights in the region are inextricably linked to reducing gender inequalities", and claimed that "significant progress" was being made towards achieving gender equality.
Nonetheless Salomao admitted that "implementation of gender commitments still falls short of stated commitments as glaring gaps and obstacles still prevail that prevent gender equality from being a reality".
The SADC secretariat will work on the proposals that emerge from this meeting and intends to submit the gender protocol to the next SADC Heads of State summit, to be held in August in Lusaka.
The World Bank's Board of Directors on 18 July approved two loans to fund the building of new transmission lines between Mozambique and Malawi.
The loans, from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank's soft loans facility, are of $45 million to Mozambique and $48 million to Malawi. They are intended to develop the regional electricity grid with the aim of increasing industrial competitiveness and fostering economic growth.
As part of the second phase of the Southern African Power Market Programme, the Mozambique-Malawi Transmission Interconnection Project will connect Malawi to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), facilitating energy trade between the two countries.
Malawi will benefit from the ability to call on Mozambican electricity, and the link will provide a new source of revenue for Mozambique's energy sector. According to World Bank energy specialist Wendy Hughes, "the interconnection will allow Malawi to reap the full benefits of membership of the Southern African Power Pool, both to import electricity when necessary - particularly if there's a drought - and also to export any surplus electricity Malawi doesn't use at night-time".
Mozambique will use the fund to build a 220 kV transmission line from the Matambo substation in Tete province to the Malawian border 135 kilometres away. The line will then travel a further 75 kilometres to a new substation at Phombeya.
As part of the project, Mozambique's publicly owned electricity company, EDM, will receive technical assistance, capacity building, training, and equipment. The funds will also help replace worn-out, inadequate, or obsolete equipment to remove critical bottlenecks.
The Southern Africa Power Pool was set up in August 1995 to address the growing power shortage in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It has been estimated that the region will need to increase capacity by at least 1,000 MW each year to meet growing demand and regional trade in electricity is seen as crucial for tackling what could become a severe restraint on growth in coming years.
According to the latest SAPP annual report, demand for electricity is due to outstrip supply by 2014. Already many parts of the region face periodic outages at times of peak demand. It has been estimated that at least $5.2 billion will need to be invested throughout the region to increase supply.
Currently the grid systems of Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe form the regional network. In the SADC region only Angola, Malawi and Tanzania are not yet connected.
The World Bank is encouraging the development of the regional pool through soft loans. This latest loan will have a ten-year grace period, after which the repayments will be spread over the next 40 years.
Mozambique needs to invest around $300 million a year in urban infrastructure up until 2020 in order to improve what are described as the "non-urbanised" parts of the cities, and to prevent other slums and shanty towns from springing up.
That is the calculation of Jose Forjaz, director of the Faculty of Architecture and Physical Planning at the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). He was speaking on "Urbanisation, Territorial Ordering and Development" on 17 July at a research seminar organized by the University's social science faculty.
Forjaz noted that this is following the same trajectory of urban growth as the rest of southern Africa. At the current rate, by 2015 the majority of the Mozambican population will be living in cities and towns.
Currently about 28.6 per cent of the population is living in the urban areas. Three quarters of them are living in the poor, "non-urbanised" neighbourhoods. These largely unplanned areas are where most of the urban growth is happening.
"The population of our cities is growing more rapidly than the rural population", said Forjaz, "and the population of the poor, unplanned neighbourhoods is growing more rapidly than that of the richer, urbanized neighbourhoods".
If these people are to enjoy a decent standard of living, then large sums of money need to be invested in the poor urban areas - some of this money should go into housing, and some into basic services, such as schools and health centres.
"Our cities are characterized by a lack of basic infrastructure, efficient urban services, decent housing for the majority of the population, an urbanized space for expansion, jobs, and administrative, technical and financial capacity", said Forjaz. Also not enough tax was collected in the cities.
Clearly the figure of $300 million cannot come out of the Mozambican state budget. Countries such as Mozambique, he said, simply do not have enough resources of their own to meet these needs. But if the question is postponed, then by the year 2015, 12 million people will be living in Mozambican towns and cities, and nine million of them will be in slums.
Forjaz did not believe the growth could be reversed - Mozambique was no exception to the general trend, observed throughout the world, of people migrating from the countryside and into towns.
The Ministry of the Environment plans to eliminate 334 tonnes of obsolete pesticides in the third phase of the project to remove these dangerous chemicals.
On 11 July Environment Minister Luciano de Castro and the Japanese Ambassador to Mozambique, Tatsuya Miki, signed an agreement under which Japan will provide $1.1 million (about half the sum required) towards the removal and destruction of the pesticides.
The project began in 2003, and the initial phases involved the collecting, listing and safe packaging of the chemicals, and the training of technical staff in how to deal with this toxic waste.
In this phase, the pesticides will be eliminated - probably outside the country, since Mozambique has no facility for the safe incineration of pesticides - and studies will be drawn up on how to prevent the wasteful use of pesticides that has resulted in the accumulation of unwanted stocks of these chemicals, which then become obsolete and unusable.
Many of the victims of flooding earlier this year in the Zambezi and Buzi river basins are still living "in deplorable conditions", months after the waters subsided, according to Deputy Minister of Public Works, Gabriel Muthisse.
Speaking at a press conference in Beira on 14 July, Muthisse, who had just returned from a trip to the two river valleys, said, "people are still living under very difficult conditions, because they're in tents and in shelters that I can't even describe as cabins".
Nonetheless, Muthisse was optimistic that the resettlement of flood victims would eventually be successful. Plots of land had now been allocated to all the families concerned, and the phase of building definitive new homes had begun.
Muthisse put the number of people affected by the Zambezi and Buzi floods at 163,000. Of this number, 64,000 needed resettlement in ten districts.
He said the government has made kits of building materials available at each of the places where land has been distributed to flood victims. The government had 123 million meticais (about $4.8 million) available for this building programme. The government will provide the cement, the roofing, and other materials, but it is up to each household to build its own home, in places that are not regularly threatened with flooding.
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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