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Waste management leader shows “determination and trust in the future of Mozambique”

Article - April 8, 2013
Arnaldo Tembe, Director of waste management and environmental services provider Interwaste Mozambique Lda, speaks to Globus Vision about what is behind the country’s ongoing successful development and how persistence, faith and confidence have kept his company on track and aiming to become the industry’s point of reference in southern Africa.
What has underpinned Mozambique’s success in recent years?
Arnaldo Tembe: It has been based on the strong leadership of the current political party in power and its leaders. It started with the leadership of Mozambique’s first president, Samora Machel [in office June 25 1975 to October 19 1986], whose development goals were very strong. He was succeeded by the ‘peace maker’ Joaquim Chissano, who started to make those goals happen in a very peculiar and bold way; Mozal [an aluminium smelter public-private partnership] with its advantages, is an example I’d put forward to show the importance of good leadership in achieving success, despite all the negative points of view back then. 
It’s essential to highlight the great contribution of Armando Guebuza. He is one of the major ‘peace makers’ we have currently. He knows exactly how to take advantage of the situation, when he galvanises the people of Mozambique to be encouraged to fight more for the development of our country. Interwaste Mozambique Lda is the result of that encouragement. He always says: ‘The sky is the limit’ to help Mozambicans break free from the shell of fatalism and keep their self-esteem up.
What is the role of communication in the country’s and Interwaste Mozambique Lda’s success?
The world has seen it is worth investing in Mozambique; but this country needs to project itself even more. Of course, we need more sophisticated technology for communication; Globus Vision is, right now, an example of those new ways of communication, given its contribution to spreading the good news of development.
How did Interwaste Mozambique Lda begin and what are its philosophies?
It began in 1999, associated with South African Interwaste, and 90% dependant on business with Mozal. When in 2005 the Mozal company itself cancelled the contract with us, our South African partner decided to leave the company, because they didn’t believe it would succeed. I decided to continue the project with lots of determination and trust in the future of Mozambique. In two years our number of vehicles rose from three to 18 and our recipes from 10% to 130%, thanks to the contract we signed with Conselho Municipal de Maputo, initially for just three months but it turned out lasting for two years. We had become independent and serving other companies such as 2M, Coca-Cola, Conselho Municipal da Matola, Xinavane Sugar, CFM, and many others. By our own internal finances, we expanded our bases and gained respect. Besides collecting, transporting and disposing of urban, commercial and industrial solid waste, we work with the collection and cleaning of ‘black’ water and recycling solid waste. 
Among our major philosophies, we believe our human resources are the most important keystones for our development, providing a secure and clean working environment with the correct social and fiscal contributions, on many levels – it is our way of participating in the distribution of our national wealth.
What role does Interwaste Mozambique Lda play in the development of the country?
Interwaste Mozambique Lda is a result of this country’s dynamic leadership and Mozambicans can see it as an example of empowerment, so they don’t need to be wary of investing and participating in our national development. We are still a small enterprise and we need every bit of help possible to make our actions known and shown.
How would you classify the commitment Mozambique has with the environment?
Mozambique signed almost every international convention, which many other countries feared to sign, and has been participating and inviting national enterprises to participate in those activities. I really feel that Mozambique is on the right track and for that it receives help and better technologies and information to help to improve its development.
What is the future for Interwaste Mozambique Lda in relation to the commitment Mozambique has with the environment?
I see a bright future because it is the biggest motivating factor of Interwaste Mozambique Lda; the government elements motivate companies to get into partnerships with foreign enterprises, in so many ways, so there can be experience exchanges. 
This company doesn’t fear development; we need to look at solid waste, not as the end of the process but to learn how to transform and recycle the waste – to look at it as the beginning of a new phase of our work and that’s why we’re searching for better technologies to transform the waste we work with. We are aiming to open a new recycling sector that is more sophisticated and improved. 
We are open for foreign investors to come and invest, not only in my company, but in other ones in the same area, so as to contribute to the development of our beloved country.
What would you like to say to people about investing in Interwaste Mozambique Lda?
The only way a win-win situation can succeed is for investors to see Interwaste Mozambique Lda as the one that plays by national and international rules, and to enjoy working with us. Our advice is to take us as for who we really are, the tool to help the development process; we don’t look for short-term advantages but for medium and long-term advantages, advancing the natural and safe process and not limiting our boundaries to just recycling – we’re also involved in tourism and civil construction.
In which areas would you like to focus your services?
I’d like to continue in environmental areas, with an emphasis on new technologies that reduce waste, but also. I would also like to direct part of my knowledge in the areas of tourism and civil construction, because recycling is a transversal service.
How would you like to see Interwaste Mozambique Lda in five years?
As a company of reference in southern Africa – to be known and not needing to make much effort to be introduced to others in international conferences, as in Ghana. In addition, I’d like to have this company in at least five of the nation’s provincial capitals.
What is Interwaste Mozambique Lda’s position with regard to its social responsibility in Mozambique?
Our main social contribution is employment generation. For example, in the primary phase of glass recycling we employee several people to collect, bag and break glass; people of all ages, especially older people. Also we are gradually helping to improve the education situation by putting new chairs and tables into schools, etc.