Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.357, 21st April 2008


Contents


HCB increases power supply

Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company EDM and Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), which operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river, on 31 March signed an agreement under which HCB is to sell an additional 100 megawatts to EDM. This raises the amount of Cahora Bassa power reserved for Mozambique from 300 to 400 megawatts. The chairpersons of the two companies, Paulo Muxanga of HCB, and Manuel Cuambe of EDM, declined to give details of how much EDM will pay for the power, but stressed that EDM enjoys "a preferential price", so that the HCB power sold to EDM is cheaper than that exported to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Energy Minister Salvador Namburete told the ceremony that this agreement was one of the first fruits of the Mozambican state taking a majority holding in HCB. In November the financial details were finalised whereby Mozambique purchased 67 per cent of HCB from the Portuguese state, thus raising Mozambique’s total holding in HCB to 85 per cent.

"The flexibility with which these negotiations were undertaken and the fact that priority was given to satisfying the needs of Mozambique, is good reason for us to reaffirm that Cahora Bassa really is ours", declared Namburete. For the first time EDM had achieved an extra 100 megawatts "with a very short period of negotiation", which had previously been unthinkable. Namburete recalled Mozambique’s bitter experience of HCB under Portuguese control "when, in order to consume an extra 50 megawatts of our own energy, we had to submit requests with explanations, wait for two years, and then receive the energy in dribs and drabs".

Cuambe stressed the importance of the extra power for EDM’s electrification programme. The peak demand for EDM power had risen from 285 megawatts in 2005 to 320 megawatts in 2006, and 364 megawatts in 2007. Now, at the end of the first quarter of 2008, the figure was 375 megawatts, "and it is continuing to grow at a pace of more than 12 per cent a year".

In 2006 and 2007 EDM had connected a further 180,439 households to the national grid (almost double the 91,000 households connected in 2004-2005). "We want to continue connecting more than 70,000 households every year", Cuambe stressed, in order to increase the percentage of the population with access to electricity from the current figure of about 10 per cent to 14 per cent by 2010.

A further five district capitals were connected to the grid in 2007, and this year EDM plans to connect another 13. "All this effort would be useless, without the availability of electricity", said Cuambe. "We are pleased that HCB is making a determinant contribution to the electrification programme and to satisfying the growing demand within Mozambique.

Muxanga said the agreement results in part from the recent modernization of HCB’s production system, making the operations of its five giant turbines more efficient. Each turbine has a theoretical potential to generate 415 megawatts, giving the dam the total maximum output of 2,075 megawatts.

HCB has agreed to supply an extra 250 megawatts to the South African electricity company Eskom, which will help with the severe power shortage faced in South Africa. This will bring the amount of HCB power purchased by Eskom to 1,350 megawatts.

In addition, HCB provides 200 megawatts to the Zimbabwean power utility ZESA, and 35 to 40 megawatts to Botswana. Negotiations were also under way to sell Cahora Bassa power to Zambia, which would require a new power line from the dam town of Songo to the Zambian border. Swaziland is also interested in purchasing between 30 and 40 megawatts of Mozambican power from EDM.


President undertakes major reshuffle

During March President Armando Guebuza undertook the largest reshuffle of his tenure, removing the ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Environment, Transport and Justice.

On 27 March President Guebuza swore into office the new Defence and Environment Ministers, respectively Filipe Nhussi and Alcinda Abreu. President Guebuza moved Abreu from Foreign Affairs, replacing Luciana de Castro.

Nhussi replaces Tobias Dai, whom President Guebuza removed on 26 March. Dai had been Defence Minister since 2000. Dai, who is President Guebuza’s brother-in-law, is a veteran of the war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule. After independence he rose to become commander of the army during the war against the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels.

The new Minister of Defence was formerly executive director of the northern division of the Mozambican ports and railway company, CFM, before being transferred to CFM’s Maputo headquarters last year as a member of the board.

On 10 March President Guebuza sacked his Transport, Justice and Environment Ministers, Antonio Mungwambe, Esperanca Machavela and Luciano de Castro. The new Justice Minister, Benvinda Levi, is a judge, whilst the Transport Minister, Paulo Zucula, is the former director of the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC).

The new Foreign Minister is Oldemiro Baloi, who was deputy cooperation minister in the early 1990s, and then Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism between 1994 and 1999. Since leaving the government, Baloi has been active in private business, notably as a member of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Board of the country’s largest commercial bank, the Millennium-BIM (International Bank of Mozambique)

President Guebuza in March also appointed a new chief of staff and deputy chief of staff of the armed forces (FADM), Paulo Macaringue and Olimpio Cambona. Their predecessors, Lagos Lidimo and Mateus Ngonhamo, who had held the posts since the FADM was created 14 years ago, left active military service.

On 21 March Prime Minister Luisa Diogo swore into office Joao Ribeiro as the new director of INGC. She also swore into office the new deputy director of the INGC, Casimiro Abreu.


Assembly passes bill on minors' courts

The Mozambican Parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 9 April unanimously passed a government bill on minors’ courts and their jurisdiction.

These courts have the power to take "criminal prevention measures" for children under the age of 16 (the age of criminal responsibility in Mozambique), who have committed an offence, who have difficulty adapting to a normal social life, who behave in an anti-social fashion, or who are seriously at risk.

This law and a framework law on child protection were passed with a minimum of debate since they are largely uncontroversial. The only issue that might raise eyebrows is a ban on "international adoption" – that is, a ban on foreigners who do not live in Mozambique adopting Mozambican children.

Justice Minister Benvinda Levy said the government wanted to ban international adoption "because we don’t have the objective conditions for monitoring children adopted by foreigners".

The rule is slightly relaxed when it comes to resident foreigners. They can adopt Mozambican children – but on a case-by-case basis, and only with the approval of the Supreme Court. Resident foreigners will not necessarily go on living in Mozambique, Levy pointed, and when they leave they will take any adopted children with them.


New steel pipe mill launched

The construction works of a new steel pipe mill have been officially launched in the Industrial Park of Beluluane, province of Maputo, on 17 April, and is expected to start operating by the end of the current year. Budgeted at $44 million, the new pipe mill will initially employ 200 workers.

With Africa and the United States being the main markets, steel pipes and tubing produced by this mill will be used for oil and natural gas pipelines.

Initially the new plant will start with a production capacity of 200,000 tonnes a year, increasing to 700,000 tonnes, using imported raw materials.

The venture includes Mozambican and foreign companies, with the South African Capital Star Steel and Seven Star Group from China sharing the majority stake with 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. The remaining 10 per cent is shared by a group of Mozambican companies, including Mozambique-Zimbabwe Pipeline Company, Petromoc, Electricidade de Mocambique, Matola Gas Company and Petroline, with the latter being involved in the project for the construction of a 570 kilometre long pipeline linking the oil terminal in the Port of Matola to the South African provinces of Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Steel rolling mill resumes production

Maputo’s steel rolling mill, paralysed for almost a decade, is now producing again, on an experimental scale, for its new owners, Arcelor-Mittal, the world’s largest steel company. Arcelor-Mittal has promised to invest $11 million in the mill (in addition to the purchase price of the once state-owned enterprise).

The director of the factory, Jose Marques, said the company would produce 35,000 tonnes of steel a year. This will take the form of steel rods for use in the construction industry.

Some of the steel rods will be sold to local construction companies, while others will be exported, mostly to South Africa. Currently the steel mill employs 83 workers, a number that is expected to rise as full production resumes.


Musician wins environment prize

Mozambican musician Feliciano dos Santos is one of this year’s seven winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. According to a statement from the prize jury Feliciano dos Santos has been using his musical talents "to spread the message of ecological sanitation in the most remote parts of Mozambique".

Dos Santos lives in the northern province of Niassa, and with his music group "Massukos" he is publicizing the importance of clean water and decent sanitation. He heads the community association "Estamos", which works directly with villagers in implementing community sanitation projects, promoting sustainable agriculture, and leading reforestation projects.

The association promotes "ecological sanitation", described in the statement as "a low cost and ecologically sustainable process that uses latrines, known as EcoSans, which generate compost".

This compost, apart from being a natural fertilizer, increases the soil’s capacity to retain water. Households using these latrines have fewer illnesses than those who do not, and have doubled their agricultural production.

Estamos began working in Niassa in 2000 and, according to the statement, "has already helped thousands of people in hundreds of villages to gain access to clean water and ecological sanitation".

The Goldman Environmental Prize, the largest of its kind in the world, was established in 1990 by the philanthropists Richard Goldman and his late wife Rhoda Goldman. Each prizewinner will receive $150,000 at a ceremony to be held in San Francisco.


Water connections for urban poor

The Mozambican government and the World Bank on 3 April signed an agreement in Maputo under which the Bank will channel $6 million to the government’s Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG) to increase access to water supply for low income households in five Mozambican cities (Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba).

The World Bank signed the agreement in its capacity as administrator of the funds of the "Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid – GPOBA". These funds come from the governments of Britain, Holland, Australia and Switzerland, as well as from the World Bank itself.

The money will provide 29,000 subsidized connections to the piped water network, benefiting 468,000 people, who will now have water taps in their back yards. Normally, poor families would not be able to pay for such a connection, which costs between 4,000 and 6,000 meticais (between $160 and $240). But under this scheme, each household will only be asked to contribute 10 per cent of the value of the connection.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, pointed out that the government is directing its attention to poor households living in peri-urban areas to ensure that they could benefit from the improvements in supply.


Prime Minister speaks on post flood reconstruction

Prime Minister Luisa Diogo on 5 April stressed the need to turn post-flood reconstruction into an opportunity to improve the housing and welfare of the victims. She was speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Disaster Management Coordinating Council held to assess compliance with the guidelines given by President Armando Guebuza when he visited the flood stricken areas of central Mozambique in February.

During his visit President Guebuza repeatedly stressed not only that flood victims should stay in resettlement areas rather than returning to the vulnerable flood plains, but also that they should seize the opportunity to build improved houses.

The meeting also discussed the establishment of a Resettlement and Reconstruction Coordination Office (GACOR). Prime Minister Diogo said the government believes that such an office would build on the experience of the reconstruction office set up after the explosions at a Maputo arsenal in March 2007 in order to rebuild the many thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed.

The meeting also heard the latest figures of the losses caused by the floods and by cyclone Jokwe that hit the coastal areas of the northern province of Nampula in early March. Between them these disasters caused the deaths of 47 people.

The cyclone has turned out to be more devastating than the floods. The authorities say that a total of 308,991 people were affected by the disasters – 113,571 of them by the floods, and 194,820 by the cyclone.

Homes, schools, clinics and places of worship were destroyed by the cyclonic winds. Thousands of hectares of crops were ruined and, according to one estimate, two million cashew trees were blown down (Nampula is the main cashew producing area in Mozambique).

"This situation means that the efforts undertaken by the government to eradicate absolute poverty have been held back", said Prime Minister Diogo. "A significant percentage of the population remains dependent on humanitarian aid".

The government included in its five-year programme for 2005-2009, and in its poverty reduction plans, measures to reduce vulnerability and mitigate the effects of natural disasters. Key to these measures are the annual contingency plans, drawn up to respond to possible disasters, and which this year allowed a speedy response to the floods.

These efforts, Diogo said, have helped improve the long-range weather forecasts, in coordination with the other southern African countries with whom Mozambique shares river basins.


Cashew harvest to exceed 85,000 tonnes

Mozambique is expecting its cashew nut production to exceed 85,000 tonnes this year, 10,000 tonnes more than in the 2006/07 campaign, despite the devastation caused by cyclone Jokwe which hit one of the most productive cashew areas in March.

According to the director of the Cashew Promotion Institute (INCAJU), Filomena Maiopue, the current harvest "is good if compared with the last two, because we have already more than 85,000 tonnes of the nuts. We are still checking out the figures, and I believe that we will reach a higher figure".

Of this amount, between 24,000 and 25,000 tonnes will be processed in the country’s formal industrial sector, which nowadays consists of small factories largely reliant on manual methods to shell the nuts. The remainder will be either exported (to India) or processed in the informal sector.

The authorities say that the increase in production is due to the cashew promotion strategy which consists of assisting the producers in replanting, and in managing the trees, allowing increased production and productivity. In terms of management, one of the most important actions is the treatment of trees by spraying against the fungal disease that lowers their productivity. The policy is that the state will provide the necessary chemicals free of charge, but the producers must acquire the spraying equipment.

Maiopue said that the producer price paid for cashew nuts this year was "very good". The minimum price was fixed at 15 meticais (about 60 US cents) a kilo in December 2007 in the northern region of the country, the most productive, "and that encouraged the producers". During the entire marketing period, the average price was 11 meticais in that area, but in the southern region the prices averaged only seven meticais a kilo.

Speaking of the setbacks to cashew production, Maiopue said that cyclone Jokwe, that hit Nampula in early March, destroyed about two million cashew trees "and we are currently working in areas that were not affected by the storm to compensate for those losses".

"We are going to replace immediately the two million trees that we have lost, taking advantage of the current rainy season, and by December or January we will resume work to compensate the losses, planting certified clones", she said.


Wheat seed promised

Agriculture Minister Soares Nhaca declared on 2 April that the importation of 100 tonnes of wheat seed is guaranteed for the 2008/09 agricultural season to encourage a growth in wheat production.

Nhaca was speaking at a meeting with academics from Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University where results were presented from scientific research to identify cassava and wheat varieties most appropriate for Mozambican conditions.

Mozambique currently consumes 450,000 tonnes of wheat per year. With the exception of a small amount of wheat grown in Tete province, this is all imported. To reduce imports researchers are looking into baking bread with a mixture of wheat and cassava flour.

The Agriculture Ministry is convinced that wheat can be grown is several parts of Mozambique, and hopes that by the 2014/15 the country will be producing 50 per cent of the wheat that it consumes.

The cost of wheat on the world market rose dramatically last year, partly because of climatic factors, such as a crippling drought in one of the main wheat producers and partly due to farmers switching from food crops to biofuels.

Speaking in early March, Fernando Songane, coordinator of the National Agriculture Development Programme (PROAGRI), warned that Mozambique is facing a deficit of 1.25 million tonnes of grain this year. Songane told AIM that, despite the improvement in the maize harvest in recent years, Mozambique still faces a shortfall of about 500,000 tonnes of this staple. As for rice, it will need to import 400,000 tonnes.

In the 2007 harvest, Mozambican farmers produced 2,168,000 tonnes of grain, compared with 2,098,000 the previous year: a growth of 3.4 per cent.


Beira dry dock repaired

Repairs to the dry dock in the central city of Beira will result in Mozambican ships no longer needing to travel to neighbouring countries for repairs.

According to Felisberto Manuel, the chairperson of Beiranave, the company that runs the Beira Naval Dockyards, $2.5 million has been spent on repairs, and on dredging the quay providing access to the dry dock.

The Beira dry dock was built in the 1960s, but for the past 20 years it has suffered from leaks. The repairs mean that the dry dock is now 100 per cent operational. The dock can now repair 100 boats a year.


 

This is a condensed version of the AIM daily news service - for details contact aim@aim.org.mz

 


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