Mozambique News Agency
President Armando Guebuza declared on 26 September that it is imperative for governments and peoples throughout the world to take strong measures now to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas that causes global warming. President Guebuza was speaking in New York, at the General Assembly of the United Nations.
President Guebuza said that, due to the revolution in communications technologies, "we follow, with emotion and regularly, and in some instances in real time, the effects of climate change on our planet". These effects included the reduction in the availability of water resources, the increased frequency and scale of extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.
The impact of such phenomena was felt most harshly in the developing world. "When these disasters hit our countries, our limitations and lack of capacity to face them become more obvious", said the President.
However, nobody was immune to climate change, and its effects were also felt in the industrialised world. "Phenomena that have never been recorded with the magnitude and frequency with which they manifest themselves today, are beginning to be a cause of concern for the citizens of these countries", President Guebuza added.
He stressed that all members of the international community should implement the action envisaged in such documents as the Kyoto Protocol. "The three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic development, social development and the protection of the environment should be approached and tackled by all of us, in an integrated, coordinated and balanced manner", said Guebuza.
He was optimistic that progress could be made at the UN conference on climate change to be held in December on the Indonesian island of Bali. President Guebuza hoped that this conference "will build consensus on future actions, including concrete targets aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a post-Kyoto agreement to bind all nations".
He wanted to see consensus reached on such matters as "funding of the national action plans for adaptation to climate change, proposed by the developing countries who are parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change", and the creation of an "adaptation fund, established in conformity with the Kyoto Protocol, to provide assistance to developing countries".
The members of the United Nations, said President Guebuza, "have the historic responsibility to secure a bright future for our children and for the generations to come by preserving an environment with quality. Today, more than ever, the time has come for us to join hands and work towards the preservation of our planet".
"To act against climate change is, in the long run, to preserve world peace and security and to ensure necessary conditions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which should be viewed as the minimum that can be demanded for now", he concluded. "Let us not postpone till tomorrow what we can and should do today, as tomorrow may be too late".
For the first time since Mozambican independence in 1975 a warship of the United States navy visited the country. The guided missile destroyer USS "Forest Sherman", which is part of the US navy's newly established Southeast Africa Task Group, docked in Maputo on 17 September for the start of a five day visit.
American personnel trained 50 members of the Mozambican navy how to handle small boats, how to deal with fires and other emergencies at sea, and how to approach or board suspicious vessels, among other matters.
The "Forrest Sherman", which was commissioned in January 2006, and cost about $900 million, and according to the US navy, its combat system "is the most technologically advanced in the world, capable of projecting power both at sea and ashore with precise and lethal accuracy".
The ship has already visited Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Djibouti, Tanzania and Comoros.
The 19 donors and funding agencies that provide direct support for the Mozambican state budget on 21 September confirmed that they will channel $435 million in budget support in 2008.
This is a considerable increase on the $385.8 million pledged for 2008 budget support in May. However, the increase is almost entirely due to the depreciation of the US dollar - most members of this group, known as the Programme Aid Partners (PAP), give their aid in Euros or other European currencies, which have been rising steadily against the dollar.
The amount of aid that the 19 PAP members have allocated to specific programmes and projects in 2008 has risen from $241 million in May to $320.9 million now. Some of this is new aid - but again, much is due to the fall in the value of the dollar. The total figure for pledged aid from PAP members for 2008 (budget support and project aid) has thus risen from $629.9 million in May to $755.9 million now.
The donor providing the largest support to the state budget is Britain ($79.7 million), followed by the World Bank ($70 million), the European Commission ($66 million), and Sweden ($50 million).
The figures were announced at the end of the six monthly review of progress by the government and the PAP donors. The meeting also agreed a set of targets for 2008, and, in some areas, indicative targets for 2009 and 2010.
Thus in education, the key target is for a pupil-teacher ratio in the first five grades of primary education of 69 in 2008, falling to 67 in 2009. There is also a target for a net rate of school attendance by six-year-old girls of 74 per cent in 2008, rising to 80 per cent in 2009.
One repeated concern of the donors is the relatively low number of women who give birth in health units. So the health authorities have been given the target of ensuring that 53 per cent of all births take place in health units in 2008, and 56 per cent in 2009.
As for the fight against HIV/AIDS, the number of people who should be receiving the life-prolonging anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment should reach 132,280 in 2008, and 165,000 in 2009. The number of children on paediatric ARV treatment should be 20,826 in 2008, and 30,000 in 2009.
The target for treating HIV-positive pregnant women so that they do not pass the virus on to their unborn children remains very low. The target for 2008 is that 17 per cent of such women will receive prophylaxis, rising to 22 per cent in 2009
There is also to be a major push on agricultural extension, with plans for 222,300 peasant farmers to assisted by the government's extension services in 2008, rising to 411,000 in 2009.
There is a target for 3,400 hectares of irrigated land to be rehabilitated with public funds and put at the service of farmers in 2008, and a further 3,000 in 2009.
As in previous reviews, the area of law and order is the most problematic. Here very few targets are set in figures - apart from the crime clear-up rate: which optimistically calls for the police to clear up 74 per cent of crimes in 2008 and 75 per cent in 2009.
No numerical or percentage figure at all is set for the number of corruption cases denounced, investigated and brought to court.
The Mozambican government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on 24 September signed agreements formalising grants of $48.2 million, out of total development assistance from USAID this year of $157 million in the areas of health, food security, rural incomes, incentives for trade and investment and good governance.
The agreements were signed in Maputo by Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, the director of the Maputo USAID office, Todd Amani, and the US charge d'affairs, Todd Chapman.
The greater part of the US grants for 2007, $95.2 million, are to be used in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes, and in providing care, including anti-retroviral drugs, to those already infected.
$10.4 million have been allocated to mother and child and reproductive health, while a further $18 million will be spent on preventing and treating malaria. $17.6 million has been allocated to food security, and slightly more than $7 million in programmes to raise farmers' incomes.
A trade and investment programme accounts for $7.8 million, intended to support the private sector, through expanding export industries and developing tourism.
Finally, $1.1 million is earmarked to support five municipalities to develop what a US embassy press release calls "a more democratic decision-making process, greater participation by civil society, and efforts to reduce corruption".
The embassy adds that, since 1984, development aid and food aid from the US government, channelled to Mozambique through USAID, has reached $2.083 billion dollars.
Norway has pledged a grant of 30 million Norwegian crowns (about $5 million) to support the institutional capacity building programme of the Mozambican Ministry of Energy for the next five years.
The agreement to this effect was signed on 21 September in Maputo by Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and by Norwegian Ambassador Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether.
Speaking immediately after the signing, Abreu said the agreement will make it possible to improve the impact of national energy policies. She stressed the good relations between Norway and Mozambique, and the Norwegian commitment to the fight against poverty in Mozambique.
The Irish government has pledged €208 million (about $290 million) to help poverty relief efforts in Mozambique during the period 2007/2010.
This grant is part of the "Mozambique-Ireland Cooperation Strategy" for this period that was launched in Maputo on 24 September, and signed by Mozambique's Planning and Development Minister, Aiuba Cuereneia, and the Irish Development and Cooperation Minister, Michael Kitt.
This strategy is essentially aimed at contributing to poverty reduction in Mozambique through support for the development, implementation and monitoring of pro-poor policies.
At the signing, Kitt said that in order to attain these goals the strategy must be based on the three pillars of the Mozambican government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA), namely good governance, human capital and economic development.
The sums committed to the development programme in Mozambique "represent the largest undertakings by Ireland to any of its bilateral partners", said Kitt, adding that health, direct support for the Mozambican state budget, provincial programmes, education, civil society, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, development of the private sector and land mine clearance, are the most important areas of cooperation.
He noted that the pledged amount represents a 90 per cent increase when compared with the €106 million granted for the 2004-2006 period.
The funds will be disbursed in yearly instalments - €43 million in 2007, €48 million in 2008, €54.8 million in 2009, and a further €61.9 million in 2010.
The International Trade Centre (ITC), a technical cooperation agency of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has pledged to disburse $130,000 to improve the production and quality of vegetables sold by cooperatives to hotels and restaurants in Maputo.
An agreement to this effect was signed in Maputo on 28 September by ITC representative Fabrice Celeclero, and Celina Cossa, chairperson of the Maputo General Union of Cooperatives (UGC). The UGC will coordinate the programme.
Cossa said that under this agreement vegetables produced by the 1,600 members of the UGC cooperatives will benefit from processing and hence will gain in value. Previously vegetables that were not purchased immediately after they had been harvested were in danger of rapid deterioration.
Celeclero said that, apart from providing processing equipment, the agreement also envisages training for the peasants.
In future, the project could be expanded to the southern province of Inhambane, and the northern provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado.
A new hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi river seems certain to go ahead, following the delivery to the government on 27 September of a detailed proposal on the construction of the dam.
The dam will be located at Mphanda Nkuwa, 60 kilometres downstream from the existing dam at Cahora Bassa. The private-public consortium proposing to build and operate the dam consists of Mozambique's publicly-owned electricity company, EDM, the Brazilian engineering company Camargo Correa, and Energia Capital, a member of the Mozambican Insitec group.
The initial viability study for Mphanda Nkuwa was undertaken in 2001 by the government's Technical Unit for Hydroelectric Projects (UTIP), and formed the basis for the consortium's technical and commercial viability study.
The consortium refined UTIP's work and concluded that a power station at Mphanda Nkuwa could produce 1,500 megawatts (rather than the 1,300 megawatts proposed by UTIP). The consortium believed that construction time could be brought down from the 73 months in the UTIP study to just 52 months.
As for the cost, UTIP had calculated it at $1.7 billion, while the consortium shaves this down to $1.6 billion. But on top of this comes the cost of the 1,400-kilometre transmission line from Mphanda Nkuwa to Maputo - between $1.7 and $2.3 billion.
If the government approves the consortium's proposal, negotiations with banks are likely to take place next year, with construction beginning in 2009. Power generation could start in 2013.
Last year the Chinese Exim Bank expressed an interest in financing Mphanda Nkuwa, but that was in discussions with the government.
One highly attractive feature of the proposal is that the consortium is offering to sell power to EDM (and thus to the Mozambican national grid) at preferential prices. This will be a boon both for Mozambican domestic consumers and for industry.
After receiving the proposal, Energy Minister Salvador Namburete said that Mphanda Nkuwa was one of a series of electricity projects (for both thermal and hydro-power stations), through which Mozambique could play its role in reducing the energy deficit in the southern African region.
Both Namburete and the consortium stressed that the new dam will strictly observe environmental norms. There has already been one favourable environmental impact study of Mphanda Nkuwa undertaken in 2001, and a document from the consortium pledges "to incorporate full care with the environment and associated social development programmes in the areas of health and education".
In particular, the health measures proposed to benefit the workforce and the local population include malaria and AIDS control programmes.
A week after the start of voter registration ahead of Mozambique's January elections for provincial assemblies, the process remains mired in problems related to the shortage of computer equipment, and the apparent unreliability of those computers that have arrived.
Each of the 3,242 registration brigades should be equipped with a portable computer, a digital camera, a scanner, a printer, a digital reader to take voters' fingerprints, as well as a battery and a small generator. But by the time voter registration started, on 24 September, only about 400 computers had arrived in the country from the South African firm that won the tender to supply the materials. More have subsequently arrived, and the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the civil service, promises to send them immediately to the registration posts.
But even where the equipment is available, it suffers "systematic breakdowns", according to a report in "Noticias" on 1 October. The paper sent reporters around registration brigades in the capital at the weekend and noted that queues build up at registration posts because of breakdowns, and because the brigades are experiencing great difficulty in handling unfamiliar machines. The brigade members complain that they were not properly trained in handling the equipment.
Registering each voter is taking far too long. According to Natividade Angelica, supervisor of a registration post set up in a school on the outskirts of Maputo, "it's going slowly. We're taking between 10 and 20 minutes to register one person, when it should take one to two minutes". That meant people were obliged to spend hours in the queue, and the post stayed open well beyond its theoretical closing time of 17.30.
One 18-year-old would-be voter told "Noticias" that he had spent an hour and a half in the queue, and then a further 30 minutes being registered.
At a second school, the supervisor, Ivone dos Santos, complained of severe computer problems. "The machine takes a long time to start, and even after it's running, it constantly gives an error reading when we input the digital record of voters' fingerprints. When that happens the solution is to switch the computer off, and then it's a headache to start it up again".
These signs of a badly planned operation "happen in full view of the voter, who often gives up", said dos Santos. But "Noticias" could find some brigades where the registration was taking place smoothly. At a post in the neighbourhood of Lhanguene, the computers were working properly, the brigade members were able to handle them correctly, and it only took two or three minutes to register each voter. But this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
The complete re-registration of the Mozambican electorate began on 24 September, and is scheduled to last for 60 days, until 22 November. There are 3,242 brigades, each composed of four people, who will undertake the registration. Each voter must prove that he or she is a Mozambican citizen of voting age (18 or above) by showing some form of legally recognised document, used for identification purposes - such as an identity card, a passport, a driving licence, a military demobilisation card, or even an old voter's card (though the old cards will not be valid for voting purposes).
Citizens who have no such documents must produce people who can bear witness to their identity. These may be two citizens already registered at the same registration post, religious or traditional authorities, or the registration body itself.
Since the full results of the August population census are not yet available, the potential size of the Mozambican electorate is not entirely clear: however, some rough calculations suggest that about 10.3 million Mozambicans are entitled to vote.
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