Infrastructure deficit is a challenge for Mozambique’s economic development

19 March 2012

The continuation of the recent strong and sustained growth of the Mozambican economy will depend on overcoming the “deficit” of infrastructures such as ports, airports and railway lines, in order to take maximum advantage of the country’s agricultural and mining potential.

Airports are some of the facilities that are most deficient and, according to information reported by airport management company Aeroportos de Moçambique, the country’s airports are due to receive investments of US$500 million over the next three year, to be spent on construction and modernisation.

According to figures published by the Economic and Trade Department of the Chinese Embassy in Mozambique, part of this funding will be used to build new airports in Pemba, Nacala and Tete, as well as to modernise Maputo International Airport.

This year the second phase of modernisation of Maputo Airport is due to be finished and experimental operations will begin at the airport’s domestic terminal.

So far around US$200 million have been invested in the system, the Chinese embassy said.

The aim, according to the chairman of Aeroportos de Moçambique, Manuel Veterano, is to increase the usage rate of the airport system, both in terms of passengers and of cargo.

Because of new operators in the Mozambican market the overall number of passengers has risen 13 percent in the last few years, driven by 43.8 percent and 11.6 percent growth in regional and international passengers, respectively.

The same constraints have been felt in the use of roads, ports and other facilities that economic agents need, at a time when the country is receiving large investments, particularly in coal mining and agricultural projects.

According to the World Bank, the “history of success of sustained economic growth,” in the last two decades in Mozambique is “legendary,” but now the government, “is facing pressing questions of how to continue expanding on that growth,” particularly in terms of investing in infrastructure.

This investment is particularly necessary, “where there is potential for mining and agricultural resources, to create a greater drive for the rest of the economy,” said a statement issued by the World Bank about a recent conference held in Maputo attended by the ministers of Planning and Development, and for Transport, as well as officials from regional and international financial institutions.

“There is a growing perception that the mineral riches of the country can change the game in Mozambique’s favour, if it is anchored in correct policies and supported by public and private investments in infrastructures,” said the director of the World Bank for Mozambique, Laurence Clarke. (macauhub)