Marcopolis presents the Mozambique Report focused on topics such as investments, doing business, economy and regional integration, featuring interviews with Mozambican leaders. The sectors under review in this issue are agriculture, banking, energy, industry, telecom, IT, tourism, logistics and many more.
Raimundo Maico Diomba is the former Governor of Gaza Province. He has been appointed Governor of the Province of Maputo in January 2015.
Interview with Raimundo Maico Diomba, Governor of Maputo Province
Could you introduce the Province of Maputo? What are its strengths and advantages?
The Province of Maputo is in the far south of Mozambique and supports the country's capital. This province borders with South Africa to the West, and Swaziland is also one of the neighbouring countries. To the East, we have the Indian Ocean, with a long coastline, which we think is still not being properly exploited. To the North, we have our Mozambican provinces, such as the Gaza Province.
Our area is 22,600 km2. We have many resources that are being exploited, but we also have some that are not. We raise cattle and we are farmers. We have the heaviest industry in the country, therefore, a part of the economy of our country is supported by this region. We also have natural subsoil, forest and wildlife resources. We collaborate with South Africa's Kruger National Park on the management of these resources and this part is growing, since tourism is having a prominent place.
We prioritize agricultural production to ensure the supply of our population and reduce the importation of food, which normally does not help ensure the normal functioning for both the State as well as for the population, regarding its participation in the production in various sectors. Therefore, agriculture has enough space to secure food for our population. We depend on the rain, but we have plans to expand and build an irrigation dam to ensure the continued production of food.
We try to process our production as much as we can, but it is still insufficient. We want more because when the output is not processed, the value never comes to be what the producer intended. Hence, with any export we do with raw products, we are, in a way, losing something. So we need to invest more in the area of processing agricultural products.
We are moving in the industrial area, and we occupy a prominent place in the country. We need more investment because the industry also needs support services. Every industry needs something from the others. We have the case of Mozal, which is the largest manufacturer of aluminium in our province. They need someone to repair their machines when they malfunction. They need someone to take care of several tanks they use to transport aluminium ingots to the port. All this reinforces that our industrial park is not enough. We have an area of more than 600 hectares that awaits investors.
We need several agricultural machines because most of the producers still use a short-handled hoe and that does not take them very far. They need equipment that helps them save the energy and make sure the citizen has enough food for themselves and to sell during the year. If we sell, we can eliminate the dependence on the importation of food from other parts of the world.
We also want to strengthen tourism. We have an extensive coastline and concrete points where tourism is growing, as is Ponta d'Ouro in the far south of our province where we have the border with South Africa. But even then the transport is not of quality, since the road is not done. We decided to proceed with the construction of the road to Ponta d'Ouro, to ensure that our tourists are able to arrive in reasonable time to the resorts they choose. The work has already started but we still needs more investments. Therefore, we want accessibility to complement the costs we are having in relation to the road construction.
We have a bridge that will link the city of Maputo with our province, cutting off the branch of the Indian Ocean that enters the Maputo Bay, in order to facilitate access for all who want to visit the southern area. However, this bridge will take time and, in the meantime, we have other means including the use of the sea that is not being exploited except for the boats that come to dock in the Port of Maputo, as well as in our fuel receiving port. We need investments to see how we can use our sea, which is a natural maintenance free road and is always available to be used. But we are not using it. Our country is very extensive and much of its extension is the coast. Starting the exploration of the sea, which can take place in the Maputo Province, I believe investors may expand to the whole country.
We also need to take care of wildlife animals because we are starting to create conditions to have safe parks to attract investment in tourism, but in the meantime, the operation is still starting. We need experienced people who can collaborate with us to properly exploit animals. We know that the elephant, buffalo and rhino are very appreciated to be visited, but not to be killed. So although we are very advanced in these animals care, we still have cases of people who hunt and kill. You can take advantage of the skin and horn by killing the animal, but it ends there. We want an animal that can generate revenue for many years, depending on the life of that animal. Therefore, any investor in the animal park area that can help care for animals and explore tourism in the wildlife area is also welcome.
We need transportation that can ease traffic jams. The concentration and congestion of cars does not help the citizens’ need to reach their workplace quickly. Therefore, the transportation sector still needs a lot of investment in land transport, such as roads and railways. We do not have a fast express train that can facilitate the flow of the population. So the fastest mean of transportation is the car and everyone being a car user causes transit congestion. We have the sector open to exploring land routes and the construction of railways to increase transportation to circulate people at will.
I want everyone to know that we are at peace, we are developing our country and we are receiving all the investment that appears as long as we follow the local law of investment. Therefore, we have peace as the main condition, and then there is room to invest in Mozambique.
We don’t have all kinds of necessary infrastructure, essentially in terms of water exploration, as the rivers Tembe, Maputo, Incomati and Umbeluzi, that mostly leave the neighbouring countries, flow into the Indian Ocean. The flow depends on the exploitation of our neighbours. The neighbours have water retention infrastructure and only release water when they see fit, which is usually during a rainy time. For us it’s a disadvantage when it should not be, because we don’t have dams to hold water and turn it to be Man’s friend. We want water to be controlled and managed in a manner that would ensure the continued production of our province.
We have communication via telephone and radio, however, they are not sufficient resources. There are areas that have no mobile phone network. We want to expand it to these points and there is no doubt that we don't have enough operators. As we know, there is no development without communication because I am unable to know what my neighbour produces. I'll have to travel far in search of something my neighbour probably has, but I am unaware because of the lack of communication, hence the encouragement of existing networks in reaching further and every part of the country.
We have cattle but it's not enough. We are not producing enough milk to feed our population. A cattle breeder has to know how to make the most of that animal before slaughter and milk is part of the formula. We want to have this production in large quantity to supply our population and also if applicable, export to other parts of the world.
So those would be the dreams we have, and this is why we encourage those who want to invest in Mozambique and especially in Maputo Province to do so. We have our strategic plan, it is no secret. It is a plan that exists and is on the Internet, meaning you can consult it at any time. We also have a portfolio of projects that can bring interested people. For us it is not enough because only a few appear. We want them to appear more because the will to grow and serve the people and see the citizen suffer less is still strong in our midst. We want clean water to reach everyone and water for the animals.
You structured Maputo's development strategy in accordance with the regional incentive programs and development corridors. The Maputo development corridor is considered as a model, as it is one of the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa. You managed to attract small and medium enterprises and fairly large-scale investment projects with this type of program. Could you comment on that?
The Maputo development corridor is a corridor that is actually growing very well. I spoke about the industry and we have railway lines that communicate with neighbouring countries as the case of Swaziland, South Africa and Zimbabwe. All these are connected with the Maputo development corridor. However, as I said from the beginning, the means of transportation are still not enough. Let's imagine we want to drain the high production of a neighbouring country to the Port of Maputo but we only have one railway line. Every time a train is moving in one direction, the other train has to stop and wait until it passes and only then continue. This slows everything down and we want to duplicate those lines so that the corridor will become increasingly strong. By duplicating, I think we can very well attend our own production and industry and ensure sufficient regional production in the case of SADC (Southern African Development Community). We want to strengthen the industry because the advantage our province has is that we are well centred in relation to continents such as Asia and America. From here it is easy to move to India, Brazil or the USA by boat. So the junction of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans facilitates the proper use of our ports, especially the Port of Maputo. Therefore, the Maputo development corridor is in fact a corridor that is growing because it is a corridor that can unify the entire transportation system of product flow and also the importation of products from different continents of the world.
New special economic zones (SEZ) are also being studied in order to offer special customs regimes, social support and tax incentives to export companies. Are they a potential here?
Yes, we have the Beluluane Industrial Park that is one example. Another area is the container unloading area and where we are noticing that the existence of special areas of development is helping people use more of our ports and waterways. It is not enough and we are in the building process, but we think that with this growth and with the involvement of more investors and the emergence of new factories of all kinds, this will increasingly be useful for our economy and the growth our province.
What would be your message for foreign investors, tourists and people who may be interested in Southern Africa and SADC? Besides, what would you like to have achieved in the next 2 to 3 years?
We are beginning to develop, so we have many dreams. First, our intention is to see the citizen not suffer from lack of water. Apart from that, we want to bring more investments here. We want to ensure that there is transportation to all points, including neighbouring countries. When this does not exist, our communication becomes increasingly difficult and so we need to facilitate communication between us and the neighbours, both within Mozambique and outside of Mozambique. We want to ensure that there are no missing connections to any part of the country, so our roads have to be useful at any time, because there are times when it rains and there is no way to get to a point where there is population through our roads.
We want to see the province have the hospitality industry to ensure accommodation to our guests, not only at any time but also in quantity and quality. There are many demanding guests who do not want just any hotel and we also want this layer of demanding people here. Our province does not have enough hotels and we want this situation to be reduced by the end of the mandate and we have already started working on it.
Another thing I want to say is that we are in peace. There are many who speak of Africa as a suffering continent and sometimes they are people who have never passed through here and the day they decide to go through Mozambique, they realize they are wrong. There are people who speak badly of the African continent and of the SADC region, that it is a hell zone and that they cannot come here, but they are still investing. So I want everyone to know that we are at peace, we are developing our country and we are receiving all the investment that appears as long as we follow the local law of investment. Therefore, we have peace as the main condition, and then there is room to invest in Mozambique.