Reforestation of Niassa, Mozambique to create 15,000 jobs

1 June 2006

Maputo, Mozambique, 01 June – The reforestation of 160,000 hectares of Mozambique’s Niassa province will create around 15,000 jobs by 2020, as part of the corporate initiatives for the least populated province in Mozambique, sources linked to the project told Macauhub.

The area to be reforested represents a leap in a sector which currently covers just 25,000 hectares of land all over the country.

“When we started the project we clearly defined that we wanted ethical investors,” Monika Branks, a consultant working with the Malonda Foundation, the institutions which channels investment to Niassa, told Macauhub.

As a result of an invitation extended in 2003 to several investors, two groups, one of which is Swedish-owned and the other backed by German funds, are already working on the start of reforestation of the 160,000 hectares, a process which will take around 15 years, but which already employs 450 people.

The total investment in a plain surrounding the city of Lichinga, the province’s capital, is of US$110 million.

“With 160,000 hectares planted we are at the economic level where we can sustain the railway,” between the port of Nacala, in Nampula province, and Lichinga, Branks said.

Currently, the line works almost sporadically along its entire length and has the greatest difficulties along the Lichinga-Cuamba stretch, the 300 kilometers of which often take over 48 hours to cross.

The reforestation process, which will make use of eucalyptus, pine and teak, is one of the projects that the Malonda Foundation has been developing in the northern province, which borders Tanzania and Malawi and has Lake Niassa as its most distinguishing landmark.

“There are districts in the province that have more elephants than people and when people used to talk about Niassa they ahd the idea that it was at the end of the world. But things are changing,” said disse Augusto Tembe from business center Nakosso-Centro de Negócios do Niassa, which is also linked to the Malonda Foundation.

The lawyer, who intermediates in conflicts and provides legal support services in the province gave of the six weekly flights linking Maputo to Lichinga as an example of the “change” taking place.

Investment promotion agencies are now turning to the international market to finance a tourism project in Marrupa, in the heart of the province, which aims to “set up an adventure trail between Lake Niassa nd the beaches at Pemba,” in Cabo Delgado province.

The project, which will cover an area of 110,000 hectares, will be used for Safaris and hunting and aimed at high-earning tourists.

The Malonda Foundation also announced it had areas approved for cultivation of “very high value products,” such s strawberries, blackberries, dried fruits and nuts for “out of season” export to the European market and was searching for partners for bio-fuel operations in the South of the province.

“The forestry industry has a very big impact on the economies of countries and can be the driving force behind the development of Niassa. If we plan well and produce well, Niassa will one day be one of Mozambique’s richest provinces,”, Branks said. (macauhub)