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Maputo regains its place as a trade hub for Southern Africa

The port of Maputo is regaining its traditional place as a trade hub in Southern Africa thanks to investment in port and transport infrastructure, which have also driven economic growth.

Development of the port of Maputo and the railway lines that link the facility, which is used by companies from South Africa and Zimbabwe, will be “great drivers of growth in 2014-18,” said the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its latest report on Mozambique.

Last year the construction sector saw growth of around 11.3 percent, whilst transport grew by 16.1 percent, which has diversified the “drivers of economic activity beyond coal mining, which  as new mines have started operating has allowed for substantial growth in the ports of Beira (centre) and Nacala (north).

“The port of Maputo is gradually recovering its role as a great transit point for the Southern Africa region,” said the EIU analysts, who noted that at the beginning of the 1970s the Mozambican capital was a great regional trade hub.

The cargo that passed through the port of Maputo in 2013 – 17 million tons – beat the previous record, from 1973.

The work that is underway, which according to the management company will cost an estimated US$2 billion, includes dredging to improve access to the port, as well as construction of a new terminal.

In 2020 total cargo handled at the biggest port in Mozambique is expected to be 40 million tons, more than double the figure for last year, according to the port authorities.

The consortium that manages the port (MPDC) includes Dubai Ports World (24.7 percent), Grindrod (24.7 percent), Mozambican port and rail company CFM – Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (49 percent) and Moçambique Gestores (1.6 percent), a company of which Mozambique’s president is a shareholder.

The investments announced by CFM and by the government also include a rail link from the South African capital, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The discovery of important mining and natural gas reserves have made Mozambique one of the biggest destinations for foreign investment in the world over the last few years, with particular interest from Asian companies.

The investments underway from China, Brazil, India and Australia, the EIU said, “will boost ties with these countries,” whilst Portugal and South Africa will continue to have a strong relationship with Mozambique.

Attracting investment to infrastructure, natural resources and services, “will be key priorities” over the next few years for the Mozambican authorities, it said.

The EIU projects that average economic growth in Mozambique, in the 2014-18 period, will be 7.7 percent per year.(macauhub/MZ))

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