Over the past few years Mozambique has transformed itself from being a centrally planned economy to one which is now open for business, welcoming in private enterprise, foreign investment and new ideas and initiatives. The civil war had left a country in ruins, its infrastructure largely destroyed and the country’s abundant natural resources left unexplored and undeveloped. However, economic reform has now opened the way to sustained national economic and social development.
The country is rich in energy resources, with coal already being mined, and has tremendous potential for increased hydropower generation and the development of its vast offshore natural gas reserves. Its energy potential prompts Dr Salimo Abdula, CEO of Intelec Holding, to say that Mozambique could be “the battery of Southern Africa” with energy not only being available for export, but also attracting investment to develop the country.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce Armando Inroga sees enormous potential for Mozambique to use natural gas as feedstock to promote a petrochemical industry, with the Southeast African country becoming “almost immediately one of the largest exporters of fertilisers”, besides being able to supply local farmers very cheaply, thus bringing greater agricultural productivity and increasing social stability by providing jobs and income in poor rural areas.
Rogério Manuel, Chairman of the Confederation of Business Associations (CTA), repeats this pragmatic approach to using the country’s natural resources to foster widespread economic and social development, stating that “Mozambique will have a large volume of tax income from natural resources” and that “civil society...and the state are working together on how to divide this future income among the population.”
Mozambique is going to where expertise already exists overseas in order to find partners and know-how to develop its natural resources and infrastructure. An investment law is now in place and great strides have been taken to streamline bureaucracy. Prime Minister Alberto Clementino A. Vaquina looks forward to “an increase in foreign investment to allow the country to resolve current challenges in areas such as railways, ports and telecommunications.”
The country is putting great emphasis on education and training to equip Mozambicans with the knowledge and skills for this new development era. Celso Correia, President of the conglomerate Insitec, states, “We still are at the beginning of the journey.” Meanwhile Mr Inroga highlights that almost 40 per cent of the population is 18 years old or younger and for whom the government is investing heavily in education and vocational training – something the minister sees as “a social investment of great importance.”
Mozambique is a young country that has overcome adversity and one in which the private sector and foreign investment now find a warm welcome as partners for the development of its rich potential in national resources. Increasing numbers of foreign investors are now taking up the challenge.