Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

 


No.367, 22nd October 2008


 

Contents



President Lula discusses investment opportunities

President Armando Guebuza on 16 October reiterated his call for Brazilian businesses to invest in Mozambique. Speaking during official talks in Maputo with his Brazilian counterpart, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, President Guebuza said “while our political relations are excellent, and are not bad in other areas, a lot remains to be done to exploit other areas of cooperation, and accelerate your involvement in investment in Mozambique”.

Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi held meetings with Brazilian business people to publicise incentives to attract foreign investment. At a joint press conference with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Baloi admitted, “we must divulge with greater intensity the business opportunities that exist in Mozambique”.

Amorim said that highly experienced Brazilian industries, such as textiles, could invest, taking advantage of the incentives offered, the ease of hiring labour, and the easy access to markets in southern Africa, Asia, Europe and north America.

At a Brazil-Mozambique business seminar, President Lula called for a redoubling of efforts to increase trade between the two countries. Current figures show that trade between Brazil and Mozambique barely exists. Between January and September this year, Brazil exported goods worth $20 million to Mozambique (mainly foodstuffs, clothing and footwear), while Mozambique exported nothing at all to Brazil.

President Lula declared, “the trade imbalance is the greatest challenge posed to our two countries”. He called for greater trade and for Brazilian companies to step up their investment in Mozambique, which he described as “an important pole of attraction for investments”.

He pointed out that, via Mozambique, in the context of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) free trade area, Brazilian investors would have access to the entire southern African market of 250 million people.

The balance of trade between the two countries will swing in Mozambique’s favour, once the Brazilian mining company, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), starts to export coal from Moatize, in the Zambezi Valley, from either 2010 or 2011. CVRD will export Moatize coking coal to steel plants in Brazil, and has spoke of ratchetting exports up to 40 million tonnes a year.

President Guebuza told the seminar that the CVRD investment has encouraged other large Brazilian companies to enter Mozambique – including the oil company Petrobras, and the construction company Camargo Correia (which leads the consortium planning to build a new dam on the Zambezi at Mepanda Nkuwa). “These investments have catapulted Brazil to fourth place on the list of foreign investors in the last five years”, said President Guebuza.

He stressed there were many other areas in which Brazilian companies could invest including transport, infrastructures and tourism. Mozambique and Brazil could also cooperate in biofuels, and in exploiting mineral resources other than coal.

On his two-day visit to Mozambique, Lula was accompanied by 150 Brazilian business people.

Anti-retroviral factory to be built soon

On 16 October President Guebuza declared that the local production of anti-retroviral drugs, in a factory to be built with Brazilian investment, “will certainly increase the number of Mozambicans with access to these medicines”.

President Guebuza said that the number of HIV-positive Mozambicans receiving the life-prolonging anti-retroviral therapy has risen from about 6,000 in January 2005 to over 100,000 now. At first only twenty or so health units could offer anti-retroviral therapy, but now it is accessible in over 200, and in all of Mozambique’s 128 districts.

Once the drugs are locally produced, it should be possible to increase significantly the number of people receiving the therapy, and so “Mozambicans are awaiting this factory with great expectations”, said President Guebuza.

About 1.5 million Mozambicans are believed to be HIV-positive. The most recent epidemiological surveillance data showed that 16 per cent of Mozambicans aged between 15 and 49 are carrying the virus.

According to President Lula the factory will be in production by 2010. Brazil first promised to finance this factory in 2003, but in the past five years the project has not advanced beyond viability studies. President Lula pointed out that Mozambique has done all that was requested of it, and that a site for the factory is ready in the southern city of Matola.

President Lula declared during his visit to Mozambique that Brazil has the moral obligation to assist Africa in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “This is a challenge that will never pay the debt that Brazil owes to the African continent”, he said, “but it is a challenge that makes us more noble as human beings and as a country. We can have clear conscience that we are playing our role in Africa”.

The debt that Lula mentioned is the 300 years of imports of African slaves to Brazil. The Portuguese transported millions of slaves to Brazil, and even after Brazil’s independence from the Portuguese crown, the slave trade continued. Slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888.

Health Minister warns factory will not solve ARV access problems

Problems associated with access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Mozambique will not be solved by the establishment of a new factory alone, since this is a much more complex issue, Health Minister Ivo Garrido has warned

According to Garrido, the new pharmaceutical plant producing ARVs, funded by Brazil, will ease the financial burden faced by the government in purchasing these drugs, but will not solve the problem of access.

“A country that produces medicines locally has advantages in terms of procurement of drugs. There are a number of steps related to procurement, which are removed when there is a factory in the country. That’s one of the advantages of having a factory”, Garrido told reporters.

“The plant will ease matters for the government since, rather than having to wait for medicines and go through all the process of clearing them through customs, now the government will just collect them from Matola, and that’s simple”, he added

Garrido explained that the problem of access to anti-retrovirals arises because most of those infected with the HIV virus are unaware of their status, and hence they fail to associate their constant pain and ill health with AIDS. They make repeated visits to health centres, not knowing that HIV infection is the underlying cause of their problems.

“It would be nice and easy if the problem was just limited to the availability of ARVs. If that was the case, we would simply buy medicines and the problem would be solved”, said Garrido.

However, said the minister, “the problem is more serious and deep, and is related with society. It’s false to claim that people don’t have access to ARVs because the drugs are not available. The main reason is that most people are unaware that they are ill”.

“How do you deal with a person who does not know that what makes him sick and causes diarrhoea, headaches, weakness or other health problems is HIV, and the same person is unable to associate those problems with HIV/AIDS?” exclaimed Garrido.

Garrido challenged reporters to present specific cases of individuals in need of ARVs, but unable to obtain them. “If you meet a person needing ARVs, and unable to gain access to them, bring that person to my office. Bring him to my office. The problem of access to treatment is real, but has nothing to do with the availability of drugs”, he said. The Health Ministry says that, even before the factory is built, imported ARVs are available in all of Mozambique’s 128 districts.

Not every HIV-positive person needs to take anti-retrovirals. Treatment is only administered to those who are already showing symptoms of AIDS, and are very weak and vulnerable to opportunistic diseases. ARVs are administered to patients to boost their immune system, to allow them to carry on a normal lifestyle.

Once a person starts taking ARVs, he will have to go on taking the drugs for the rest of his or her life.

But there has been a trend for a growing number of patients to give up ARVs for a number of reasons. Some of them claim a lack of food as the main reason for quitting treatment. They claim that sometimes they have little or nothing to “fill their stomachs”, and effective ARV treatment demands a diet rich in vitamins and proteins.

Moreover, the distance from the health centres is one of the factors for quitting treatment. Patients receive medication for 15 days, and then they must return to the health unit to check their CD4 count (which measures the quantity of the protective cells in the immune system that are destroyed by the virus), receive medicines and further guidance.

Often, these health centres are located far from their communities, requiring money for transportation, which sometimes patients are unable to afford.

The government says it has resources for expanding ARV treatment. 'There is no shortage of anti-retroviral drugs in Mozambique”, stressed Garrido, though he admitted, “eventually this could happen in future due to the increase in the number of beneficiaries”.

The reason for the relatively low coverage rate lies in other factors, such as the shortage of medical staff to monitor patients, check their diet and the intake of their medicines – but in particular the sheer lack of knowledge among sufferers of their HIV status.

 


Science and Technology Parks to be created

Mozambique is to shortly establish four Science and Technology Parks dedicated to research in different areas of activity. The areas to be covered include the development of agricultural technologies, agro-processing, energy and the environment, telecommunications, biotechnologies, biomedicine and building materials. These parks are to be set up in Maputo, Zambezia, and Nampula provinces.

The establishment of the Science and Technology Parks was one of the matters discussed by the Mozambican government at a cabinet meeting on 14 October. Science and Technology Minister Venancio Massingue told reporters after the meeting that the first such park is to be created in Manhica, in Maputo province, in a partnership between Mozambique and the Indian government.

“The provincial government has already allocated space and funds for the first phase in setting up the Manhica Park”, said Venancio Massingue.

He said that there is already $25 million for the Manhica Park, made available by the governments of Mozambique and India. These funds are to be used to build laboratories and classrooms, to install computer equipment, and provide water and electricity.

The minister said these parks are intended to serve as bridges between research and the market, where knowledge-based companies and institutions may develop their research. “These parks are to be based on three pillars, namely learning and research, technological incubation, and business and productive activities. These pillars are to function in a combined manner. Our intention is for these parks to be able to produce equipment, to assemble machinery, to develop software, research and multi-sector development”, said Massingue.

He noted that, by creating these parks, the country would be one of the few countries in Africa with this type of development programme, following in the footsteps of Egypt and South Africa.

Similar experiences have occurred in countries such as the United States, Britain, China, Singapore, and India. Massingue added that this kind of initiative is led by governments all over the world, including in the USA, where there are 195 of them, with about 6,700 companies.

He said “normally, these parks prioritise the relationship between the government and its partners and here our partners are the public sector in general, national or foreign higher education institutions, scientific research institutions, the national and foreign private sector and other interested parties'.

Massingue said that after the Maputo park, the others, in Moamba (which is also in Maputo province), in Zambezia and in Nampula - will be developed by the national private sector, which will be the main beneficiaries.

 


Largest silos in southern Africa under construction

The largest complex of grain silos in southern Africa is under construction at the northern port of Nacala, and should be operational by March 2009, according to Fernando Couto, the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Development Corridor (CDN), the private-led consortium that holds the lease on the Nacala port and rail system.

Interviewed in the independent daily “O Pais” on 21 October, Couto said the silos will hold up to 60,000 tonnes of grain, which will supply landlocked Malawi and possibly Zambia. The total investment for the project is $15 million.

Couto said that CDN will earn about $4 million a year from the silos and will dramatically increase in Malawian use of the Nacala railway. “We will have to run about five trains a day to supply Malawi”, he said, “There will be more trains running, more crew members, more drivers, more jobs due to this demand”.

Already the silos were providing over 300 temporary construction jobs. Once they were in operation, CDN would have to recruit more railway staff to meet the demand.

 


Oil exploration contract with Petronas

The Malaysian state oil company, Petronas, has become the fifth foreign company to sign a contract with the Mozambican government, giving it a licence to explore for oil in the Rovuma basin, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

An Exploration and Production Concession Contract was signed in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba, on 10 October, by Datuk Abdullah Karim, vice-President of Petronas Carigali Mozambique, and by the chairperson of the government’s National Petroleum Institute (INP), Arsenio Mabote.

Under the agreement, Petronas will hold a 90 per cent stake in Rovuma Basin Blocks 3 and 6, which are both offshore. The other 10 per cent goes to Mozambique’s publicly owned National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH)

In the first three years, Petronas has pledged to spend $5.6 million on the geological and geophysical evaluation of the two blocks.

There are known to be hydrocarbons in the Rovuma basin because some have seeped to the surface in parts of Cabo Delgado. But nobody is yet certain whether oil exists in commercially viable quantities, although experts say that the geology points in that direction. The discovery of significant reserves of natural gas on the Tanzanian side of the basin is taken as a hopeful sign.

The other companies with licences to explore Rovuma basin blocks are Anadarko (of the United States), Artumas (Canada), ENI (Italy) and Norsk Hydro (Norway).

 


Renamo confident of winning more municipalities

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party Renamo, declared on 17 October that he is confident that Renamo will increase the number of municipalities it controls in the local elections scheduled for 19 November.

Currently, there are Renamo mayors in five of the 43 municipalities (Beira, Marromeu, Nacala, Angoche and Mozambique Island). The ruling Frelimo Party has 28 elected mayors, and there have been no elections yet in the other ten towns, which were elevated to municipal status this year.

At a press conference, held as part of the commemorations of the 29th anniversary of the death of the first Renamo commander, Andre Matsangaissa, Dhlakama said, “we would not like simply to hold on to the five municipalities currently held by Renamo. Why not multiply thus number two, three or even four times?”

Dhlakama stated that Renamo has been working to guarantee victory in at least 20 of the 43 municipalities. He played down the impact on Renamo of the current crisis in Beira, where the mayor, Daviz Simango, has been expelled from Renamo and is running as an independent.

“There are no problems in Beira”, claimed Dhlakama. “There is no confused situation. We in Renamo think that the existence of a disagreement inside a party is something normal, and is not a matter of life or death”.

He said that Renamo had warned Simango not to run as an independent, but he had disregarded that advice. “We know that Renamo, with Manuel Pereira (the official Renamo candidate in Beira), will clean up everything”, be boasted. “There’s no doubt that we are going to win the election”.

 


First stone laid for provincial hospital

Health Minister Ivo Garrido and the governor of Maputo province, Telmina Pereira, on 10 October laid the first stone for the Maputo provincial hospital, which will be the largest hospital built in the country since independence in 1975.

Maputo is the only one of the ten provinces that does not have its own provincial hospital. As a result, seriously ill people in the province tend to go to Maputo Central Hospital in Maputo city.

The new hospital is being built in the industrial city of Matola, which adjoins Maputo. It will contain all the wards required for a reference hospital, a laboratory for medical tests, three operating theatres and a morgue. There will be beds for 400 patients.

According to the head of the Infrastructure Department of the Health Ministry, Joao Alexandre, the new hospital will have a work force of 400, including 30 doctors and 150 nurses.

The budget for the hospital is $9.5 million - $7 million for construction and $2.5 million for equipment. The hospital is expected to be ready by 2010.

The Mozambican state is spending $500,000 on the hospital, while the OPEC Fund donating $5 million with the remaining $4 million being pledged by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).

 


No GM seeds in green revolution

The “Green Revolution” in Mozambique does not depend on genetically modified seeds, Prime Minister Luisa Diogo assured the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on 9 October.

Winding up a two-day debate in which the government had answered questions from deputies about the proposed “Green Revolution”, Diogo said that Ismael Mussa, a deputy from Renamo, was quite wrong to assume that higher yields require genetically modified seeds.

“In fact, the use of genetically modified seeds in Mozambique is banned”, said Diogo. “We are using improved seeds that are produced in Mozambique, but they have not been genetically modified. The only seeds we still need to import are for wheat”.

 


 

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

 


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