Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza on 4 September
began a four-day visit to Brazil, at the invitation of his counterpart, President
Luis Lula da Silva, in a gesture to relaunch economic cooperation between the
two countries. Mozambique is hoping to benefit from the Brazilian experience
in technical and professional training, distance learning, production of bio-fuel,
and building of socio-economic infrastructures, among other vital sectors for
the development of the country.
President Guebuza's visit also appraised the implementation of approved projects, including Moatize coal which is set to start in 2009, and the building of an anti-retroviral drugs factory which was recently approved by the Mozambican government. The Moatize project involves about $1 billion and the anti-retrovirals factory is budgeted at $23 million.
President Guebuza's delegation included Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, and Minister of Industry and Trade Antonio Fernando, Minister of Energy Salvador Namburete, Minister of Mineral Resources Esperanca Bias, Minister of Education and Culture Aires Ali, and a number of parliamentarians.
During his visit President Guebuza challenged Brazilian business people to take advantage of the existing investment opportunities in areas such as transports, energy, tourism.
He invited the Brazilians to take advantage of the new bigger market, of more than 200 million consumers, available with the opening of the Free Trade Area in the Southern African Development Community as from 2008.
A major agreement was signed between the two countries covering the production of bio-fuels, renewable energy from agro-farming raw materials, in which Brazil has a long experience. About 80 per cent of the Brazilian vehicles are powered by ethanol, which has helped the country reduce imports of liquid fuels and reduce the levels of environmental pollution.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Guebuza stated that "we chose this path taking into account its multiplying effect for poverty relief, and its impact in the implementation of international agreements to protect the environment, biodiversity, and prevent global warming".
For his part, President da Silva noted that Mozambique has every condition (climate and soil) to help respond to the growing demand for this resource across the world. He said that helped by Brazilian private companies, Mozambique will embark on this "energy revolution".
He added that his country's technology would help Mozambique take advantage of its hydro-electrical power and oil.
Four Mozambican trade unions have decided to merge into one organisation as a means of strengthening their ability to defend the interests of their members.
The new organisation will bring together the Chemical and Printing Workers' Union (SINTIQUIGRA), the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Workers Union (SINTIOVEC), the Ports and Railway Workers Union (SINPOCAF), plus the Ports and Allied Workers Union (SINPEOC).
No name has yet been fixed for the new organization, which will only choose one at the meeting of its founding general assembly, due in November.
The Mozambican economy grew at a slower pace in the first half of this year
than in the same period of 2006, but is still on target for reaching the planned
figure of 7.2 per cent growth in GDP for 2007. According to figures presented
on 17 September by the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia,
the overall economic growth rate in the first six months of the year was 8.8
per cent, compared to the period from January to June 2006 when it had been
10 per cent.
Growth would have been stronger, Cuereneia said, had it not been for the natural disasters that hit the country at the start of the year - notably the January-February floods in the Zambezi Valley, and cyclone Favio which cut a path of destruction through key tourist areas in the southern province of Inhambane. Repairing the damage from these disasters cost $71 million.
The areas with the strongest growth rates were electricity and water (24.5 per cent), restaurants and hotels (17.1 per cent), transport and communications (16.1 per cent), trade (14 per cent), government services (11.6 per cent), and the building industry (10.5 per cent).
Agriculture grew at a healthy 8.8 per cent, and livestock production at 7.7 per cent. The growth rate in manufacturing industry was just two per cent, and in mining 6.8 per cent.
Some sectors shrank - fisheries production declined by 8.2 per cent, and forestry by 5.4 per cent.
The decline in the fisheries sector was partly because three companies abandoned their fish farming operations, and partly because 20 per cent of the country's fishing vessels did not put to sea during this period because of the increases in fuel costs.
As for the fall in forestry earnings, Cuereneia said this resulted from a crackdown against illegal exports of unprocessed logs. Logs are no longer exported to Asia with no questions asked, and so there is some loss of foreign exchange.
Cuereneia put the rate of inflation in the first six months of this year at 3.7 per cent. The government's target is that January-December inflation should not exceed six per cent.
As for the Mozambican currency, the metical, it registered gains against both the US dollar and the South African rand. From January to June, the metical appreciated by 2.1 per cent against the rand, and by 0.3 per cent against the dollar.
Cuereneia had export figures available only for the first quarter of the year. The January to March exports earned the country $565 million (which compares with $535 million from the exports in the first quarter of 2006). The target for the year is that exports should reach $2.292 billion.
Over the six-month period, 85 new investment projects were approved, valued at a total of over $1.83 billion, and which could create 8,000 new jobs. The figure is deceptive: Cuereneia pointed out that the planned investment by the Brazilian mining giant, the
Compania Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), in the coal basin of Moatize, in the western province of Tete, accounts for 83 per cent of this proposed investment.
State revenue in the first half of the year was 15.622 billion meticais (about $610 million). This is 48.1 per cent of the 2007 target for revenue of 32.461 billion meticais, since tax collection usually picks up in the second half of the year there is every chance that the target can be exceeded.
For expenditure the story is very different. The state is more or less on target for meeting its running costs. From January to June it spent 15.459 billion meticais on recurrent expenditure, which was 48.8 per cent of the annual target of 31.681 billion. But only 8.331 billion meticais was spent on capital projects, a mere 24.9 per cent of the capital budget of 33.446 billion meticais.
As for the main social achievements, Cuereneia said that 722 new schools had begun operating - 349 of these are first level primary schools (teaching first to fifth grade), 328 are second level primary schools (sixth and seventh grades), 36 teach the first cycle of secondary education (eighth to tenth grades), while nine are pre-university schools (11th and 12th grades).
In the health service, 19 new heath centres were concluded in the six-month period, and in the drive against malaria, 438,950 mosquito nets were distributed throughout the country.
As for water supply, 501 boreholes and 82 wells were built in the first half of 2007, and a further 622 water sources were rehabilitated, bringing clean water to an additional 490,500 people.
Cuereneia admitted the government's concern at the rise in international oil prices. One of the measures to cope with this was to encourage the use of alternative fuels, to ensure that the growth targets for this year would not be compromised.
From October the World Bank is to start disbursing $100 million earmarked for the rehabilitation of roads in Mozambique.
Almost two thirds of the money ($65 million) will be used to rehabilitate three stretches of the country's main north-south highway, two of them in the southern province of Inhambane (between Zandamela and Chissibuca and between Massinga and Nhanchengue), and one at the very start of the road, in Maputo city itself (between the neighbourhoods of Jardim and Benfica).
The chairperson of the board of the Mozambican government's Road Fund, Francisco Pereira, told AIM that the remaining $35 million are to be used in maintenance and in sector running costs.
The World Bank also agreed on 11 September to give a loan of $15 million to support the expansion of the Mozambican water supply system in the cities of Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba, and to establish an institutional and regulatory framework for water management in smaller cities and towns.
This work will also be supported by a grant of $15 million from the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF - a multi-donor trust fund set up by the World Bank in 2006), which was approved on 8 August.
According to Jane Walker, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the new project, the loan "will particularly extend networks in peri-urban areas where the bulk of low income population lives and where the risks of water borne diseases are much higher".
Under the project, 370 kilometres of water pipes will be laid in the four cities covered, with 10,000 new connections to the water supply system.
Further support for development was agreed on 27 August when the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of $6.2 million to support the countrys Market Led Smallholder Development Project in the Zambezi Valley. The funds are in addition to the International Development Association (IDA) credit of $20 million approved by the World Bank on June 20, 2006.
These funds seek to support activities to limit land degradation, provide predictive capacity for assessing vulnerabilities to climate change, and improve the ecosystems resilience towards climate change in the Central Zambezi Valley.
The Mozambican government approved on 11 September a rural development strategy for the period up to the year 2025. The strategy, which has been under discussion since 2002, is centred on decentralising development activities, and ensuring that they are integrated and harmonised.
According to Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, the strategy rests on five pillars - namely human capital, innovation and technology, competitiveness and accumulation of rural capital, good governance and market planning, and the productive and sustainable management of natural resources and of the environment.
He stressed that this strategy comes at a time when the demographic projections are that by 2025 only a third of Mozambicans (rather than the current 70 per cent) will be living in rural areas. The trend is for increasing migration into the existing cities, and for the growth of small district capitals into substantial towns.
Covane stressed the need to provide rural areas with roads, electricity supply, schools, health units and telecommunications, and other conditions that will allow their rapid development, and improvements in the living standards of those living there.
The new Attorney General, Augusto Paulino, appointed by President Armando Guebuza on 29 August, has promised to fight against crime in the country. Addressing reporters shortly after being sworn into office on 30 August, Paulino said "it is imperative that we continue this positive work that has been carried out by my predecessor. I will work to improve the relationship between the Attorney's General Office and the State Organs and I will continue fighting against crime and, most of all, against corruption".
Augusto Paulino, who until recently was the presiding judge of the Maputo City Court, is replacing Joaquim Madeira who held the post over the last seven years.
Swearing the new Attorney General into office, President Guebuza reiterated the need to close relationships between the different justice institutions, and bring them closer to the common citizen.
Augusto Paulino became the most famous judge in the country when, from November 2002 to January 2003, he presided at the trial of the six men accused of the murder of Mozambique's top investigative journalist, Carlos Cardoso, and sentenced all of them to lengthy prison terms.
His appointment was followed by the dismissal on 12 September of all six of the country's assistant Attorney- Generals. Those attorneys relieved of their duties are Isabel Rupia, former head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, the predecessor of today's Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC), Rafael Sebastiao, the current chairperson of the GCCC, Albino Macamo, Valdomiro Socrates, Germano Ziote and Graciett Xavier.
There is no suggestion that these six attorneys have committed any offence or have been performing in a less than satisfactory manner. A statement from President Guebuza's office said these dismissals were made necessary by the new law on the Public Prosecutor's Office passed by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, earlier this year. The law makes several significant changes in the way senior prosecutors are appointed, and the President no longer has a free hand in making such appointments.
Mozambique is due to produce over 20,000 tons a year of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) by mid 2009, an amount that could later rise to up 35,000 tons, according to Energy Minister Salvador Namburete.
The Minister, in a recent interview with the daily paper "Noticias", pointed out that this is far above the current demand of the Mozambican market, and the surplus could be exported to other neighbouring countries such as Swaziland and South Africa.
Citing a recent study commissioned by the Mozambican company "Petromoc" and the South African giant "SASOL" for the construction of a new processing facility for the conversion of Natural Gas Condensate into LPG, Namburete said that all is set for the kick-start of the project in January 2008.
The Minister stated "the study states the new facility will be able to produce 20,000 tons of LPG a year. It is an investment of $20 million and there is a potential for the expansion of that capacity to reach up to 35,000 tons a year. That means that the project has a potential to meet not only the internal demand, but also generate surplus for export to other neighbouring countries, including South Africa, that in the last few years has been facing a deficit of petroleum products, including LPG".
Namburete explained that the study indicated that it would take 18 months to complete the new facility at Pande and Temane. Asked about the reasons for the delay of the implementation of this project taking into account that natural gas from the Pande fields arrived in Maputo in 2005, Namburete said, "last year we faced a severe shortage of cooking gas and it became clear that we had to build a new processing plant. Initially, we were planning to build a plant for the production of illuminating paraffin, and not LPG. But today that idea has changed. The study initially proposed for the production of illuminating paraffin had to be abandoned to give way to LPG".
The National Elections Commission (CNE) launched in Maputo on 1 September a civic education campaign to sensitise the population to adhere to the voters registration exercise for the forthcoming provincial, local and general elections.
During the first 25 days, STAE is to organize musical festivals, drama and other activities aimed at raising awareness among the population to the need of registering as voters if they are to exercise their right in the first Provincial Assembly elections on 16 January 2008, in the Municipal elections later the same year, and in presidential and legislative elections in 2009.
Leopoldo da Costa, CNE chairperson, led the ceremonies urging the civil society to register as voters to exercise their rights.
Voters registration will run for the next three months, and will involve 2050 agents across the country, who will mobilise and sensitise the citizens to participate in the process.
Voters registration has been budgeted at $16 million, while the total cost of the first provincial elections has been put at $33 million.
Meanwhile, the Technical Secretariat for Elections Administration (STAE) estimates that about 10.5 million voters will be registered during this period.
Raw data released in Maputo on 21 August from the "Third General Population and Housing Census" show that currently Mozambique has a population of 20,069,738 people. With 7.6 million citizens, the northern provinces of Nampula and Zambezia are the most populated areas in Mozambique. The capital contains 1,087,692 people, which is much less than the initial projection of 1,271,569.
The Chinese government is to grant to Mozambique a sum of $1.5 million earmarked for the re-equipment of a number of Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) departments. This follows a new protocol of military assistance, signed recently in Beijing, China, between FADM Chief of Staff Lagos Lidimo and his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie.
Describing the Chinese military assistance as crucial, Lidimo said that it would contribute to the growth and re-equipment of the Mozambican Army to meet the countrys defence and security.
This grant follows logistical assistance to the Ministry of Defence valued at $800,000 by the Chinese Embassy in the from of computers, photocopier machines, cameras, TV sets, DVDs, washing and drying machines and fridges.
Earlier this year China donated equipment valued at $1.5 million to the Mozambican Army. That donation was made up of non-lethal equipment, included light vehicles, computers, and assorted uniforms for the Mozambican army, navy and air force.
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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