Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports

No.440, 1st March 2012




President Guebuza mourns death of Bertina Lopes

President Armando Guebuza on 10 February declared that the painter and sculptor Bertina Lopes, who died at her home in Rome at the age of 86, had always known how to translate her art into an instrument of social criticism and political awareness.

President Guebuza’s message described Bertina Lopes as “a humble, creative, combative and generous woman, who always demanded of herself that she surpass her previous achievements”.

Her creativity had won international recognition, President Guebuza said, as shown by the many exhibitions of her work shown all over the world, and the many prizes that she had won.

Her workshop in Rome had become “a piece of Mozambique in Italy”, he added, visited by Mozambicans passing through the Italian capital, and by lovers of art and culture from across the globe.

Lopes was born in Maputo, the daughter of a Mozambican mother and a Portuguese father. She went to study in Portugal in the late 1940s, where she trained in painting and sculpture at the Lisbon Higher School of Fine Arts, and came to know many prominent Portuguese artists.

When she returned to Maputo, she taught in technical education between 1953 and 1961. She left Mozambique in 1962, at the height of the persecution of Mozambican nationalists by the Portuguese political police, the PIDE.

She obtained a scholarship from the Portuguese Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to study ceramics. In 1963, still a Gulbenkian scholar, she settled in Rome which became her home for the rest of her life.

Her first marriage was to the Mozambican poet Virgilio de Lemos, who also left Mozambique because of harassment by the colonial regime, and after a spell in a PIDE prison. Lemos was the father of her two children.

At the time of her death Lopes was married to an Italian computer engineer, Franco Confaloni.

Pipeline for gas imports ready by April

A pipeline to allow ships to unload domestic gas at Maputo port should be complete by April, according to Manuel Braga, general director of IMOPETRO, the company that imports fuel for Mozambique.

Cited in the daily newspaper “Noticias” on 20 February, Braga said the pipeline will allow Mozambique to end its dependence on imports of gas overland from South Africa.

Overland transport makes Mozambique highly vulnerable to any problems in South African refineries. Thus in late 2011, the South African company Engen was unable to honour its contract to supply LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) to IMOPETRO, because of a fire at its refinery in Durban. For several weeks, the Mozambican market was desperately short of domestic gas, the fuel on which many thousands of urban households depend for their cooking.

The pipeline at the port is two kilometres long. Investments have also been made making it possible to store an additional 6,000 cubic metres of gas.

However, for the immediate future it seems likely that most of the country’s domestic gas will still arrive overland – although some of the bidders responding to the recent tender by IMOPETRO to select a new supplier could use boats to bring gas to Maputo.

Eventually Mozambique hopes to use its own natural gas for domestic purposes. Most of the gas extracted at Temane, in Inhambane province, is sold to South Africa, but some is used by industries in the southern city of Matola, and there are plans to pipe it to residential areas in Maputo and Matola.

The vast deposits of natural gas recently discovered in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, will allow Mozambique to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the domestic market and for export. But the LNG plants are unlikely to be operational before 2018.

Land titles being revoked

The Ministry of Agriculture has begun to revoke land titles in cases where the holder has abandoned the land, according to the National Director of Land and Forests, Dinis Lissave, cited in “Noticias” on 1 March.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Maputo of the Consultative Council of the Agriculture Ministry, Lissave said that so far the cancellations affect 201 land titles (DUATs), covering over 64,000 hectares.

There have been many promises in the past that people who do not use the land allocated to them will lose their title to it, but this time the Ministry appears serious. Lissave said the Ministry is moving from words to actions, and intends to make the land available to the people who really work it in order to boost food production.

Last year the Ministry launched an inspection campaign. 1,362 plots of land for which DUATS had been issued were visited. In total, these titles covered 455,000 hectares – and the Ministry found that 42 per cent of the title holders were not following the land use plan they submitted when they applied for the titles.

Lissave said that, in most cases, the failure to use the land was because the title-holders did not have the money to implement the projects they had submitted to the Ministry, leading to an apparent abandonment of the land.

He promised that his directorate will continue to pay particular attention to this question, in order to reduce the amount of left idle and unproductive. Since some of this land is in areas of high agricultural potential, he added, it ought to be making a major contribution to food production.

Staff of the Land and Forests Directorate are being trained to step up their inspection of whether title-holders are implementing their plans. The purpose, Lissave stressed, is to free land for food production and other investment projects.

Lissave’s directorate is also seeking to improve to collect land fees from DUAT holders. The efforts made last year led to the collection of 23 million meticais ($846,000), which was a 67 per cent increase on the amount collected in 2010.

Figures given last year to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco painted an even bleaker picture than Lissave. Pacheco had said that 913,000 hectares had been identified as lying idle – which was 37 per cent of the total area for which DUATS were issued to individuals or companies in the period 2005-2010.

China to finance Maputo ring road

The Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) is to provide $300 million for the construction of a ring road around Maputo.

The agreement with the Exim Bank was signed on 17 February and ratified by the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) on 28 February. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, the ring road will ease congestion in Maputo, and will mean that traffic moving from one side of the city to the other will no longer have to drive through the heart of Maputo.

Now that the agreement has been signed and ratified, the equipment required can be mobilised. “We hope that the construction work can start during the first half of this year”, Banze said.

“Maputo poses great challenges in terms of traffic management”, added Banze. “We intend to help unblock the congestion, and find alternatives to the current situation”.

Health Minister Alexandre Manguele told reporters that the Cabinet meeting had also discussed plans to cut dramatically the rate of child malnutrition. The most recent surveys have shown that 46 per cent of Mozambican children suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting). The government’s target is to cut this figure to 20 per cent.

Chinese donation for military hospital

The Chinese government has pledged to donate 20 million yuan (about $3.2 million) worth of equipment to the Maputo Military Hospital under an agreement signed in Maputo on 27 February.

The agreement was signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Mozambican Defence Ministry, Maj-Gen Teofilo Joao, and the director of military cooperation in the Chinese Defence Ministry, Qian Li Hua.

Speaking at the end of the ceremony, Qian said the donation includes both medical and office equipment, and should arrive in Maputo within six to eight months.

“Our cooperation with Mozambique has a long history, and this equipment is part of our cooperation”, he said. “Based on the needs of Mozambique, we shall grant more aid to the Mozambican government to equip its army”.

Mozambican Defence Minister Filipe Nyussi, who witnessed the ceremony, said the donation is a continuation of the cooperation agreements and memoranda that Mozambique has been signing with China.

“This time we decided that our cooperation should cover complete equipment for the Maputo Military Hospital”, he said. “Thus the Military Hospital will be equipped, and later the staff who will handle this equipment will be trained”.

Nyussi added that his meeting with the Chinese delegation was also “a moment of reflection” about how to make the Mozambican army sustainable, rather than dependent on outside support.

“With our brother army of China, we are seeking ways of making the Mozambican army sustainable, so that it can advance on its own”, he said.

The Minister said that the hospital equipment includes X-ray machines, scanners and ultrasound machines.

New Beria coal terminal opens

The first shipment left the new coal terminal in the central port of Beira on 27 February. The ship “Bulk Zambeze”, which can carry 35,000 tonnes of coal, left Beira for the high seas where it will tranship the coal to a Panamax vessel with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes.

The coal was mined in the western province of Tete by the Brazilian company Vale and is destined for the Asian markets.

The new terminal possesses state of the art loading equipment and can handle six million tonnes of coal a year – the same capacity as the Sena railway line that runs from the Moatize coal basin in Tete to Beira.

This coal terminal is still described as “provisional” – for with the expected growth in Mozambican coal exports over the next few years, plus likely exports from neighbouring Zimbabwe, the terminal will have nowhere near enough capacity.

The Mozambican port and rail company, CFM, is looking for partners to help build a much larger coal terminal with the capacity to handle 20 million tonnes a year. According to Felix Machado, head of the Marketing and Sales Department of Cornelder of Mozambique, the company that operates Beira port, there is no spare capacity in Beira for such a terminal.

The proposed new terminal thus implies building an entirely new port, somewhere north of Beira.

Indian company to begin coal exports this year

The Indian company Jindal Steel and Power expects to start exporting coal from its mine in Changara district, in the western province of Tete, later this year.

Interviewed in the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, the director of Jindal-Mozambique, Manoj Gupta, said that initial exports will be on a small scale, but will eventually rise to ten million tonnes a year, when the mine is fully developed.

“Right now, we are developing the mine and setting up all the necessary infrastructures, including an electricity sub-station”, said Gupta. “We are providing all the conditions for the start of operations, so that by the end of the year we can start the first exports”.

Initially, Jindal plans to use the Sena railway line that runs from Tete province to Beira, and export its coal from the port of Beira. But it may also use whatever other transport options become available.

By the end of this year, the Sena line, and the coal terminal at Beira port will not be able to handle more than six million tonnes of coal a year. But as more of the mines in Tete come into production, it will become urgent to find other routes to the sea.

Thus Riversdale Mining of Australia (now taken over by Rio Tinto) favours barging coal down the Zambezi River and transhipping it onto larger vessels at the mouth of the Zambezi. Vale of Brazil is committed to building a new railway across Malawi that will link up with the existing northern line to the port of Nacala. Other possibilities include using the port in Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province, and building new ports in Zambezia, with railways linking them to Tete.

For the current phase of development, Jindal is investing about $250 million in the Changara mine.

Gupta said that the coking coal mined at Changara will be exported to the Jindal Group’s steel plants in India. But the company also intends to discuss using some of the coal to produce electricity within Mozambique.

New cement factory to be built

A new cement factory is due to start operating in Boane district, 30 kilometres west of Maputo.

The factory is the initiative of a Mozambican NGO, the Community Development Foundation (FDC), and involves investment of $4.2 million provided by a group of Indian businessmen.

On 22 February the first stone for the new factory was laid at a ceremony chaired by the Boane district administrator, Zeferino Cavele.

At the event, FDC representative Ivandro Sitoe told reporters that, to ensure the factory can be assembled without problems, a two kilometre tarred road will be built to the site.

“We hope to start commercial activities as from July”, said Sitoe. “Everything is ready to start building the factory, with some of the equipment already arriving and others on the way”.

The factory will have the capacity to produce 8,000 sacks of cement, each of 50 kilos, per day. It is expected to employ at least 160 Mozambican workers.

Policemen arrested for extortion

Mozambique’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has arrested two members of the Maputo Municipal Police for extorting money from drivers of the minibus-taxis, commonly known as “chapas”.

According to the GCCC, the arrests took place on 22 February after the two policemen had been spotted in the Maputo neighbourhood of Mavalane illicitly seizing their victims’ driving licences, insurance documents, and vehicle ownership documents. The police returned the documents – but only on payment of sums varying between 20 and 100 meticais (between 74 US cents and 3.7 dollars).

But there was also a team of GCCC investigators in the vicinity who saw what was going on, and caught the two policemen red-handed.

The two men have not been named and are currently under detention, awaiting criminal proceedings against them.

Vietnamese to invest in Nampula

Over 30,000 hectares of land will be made available to Vietnamese investors in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, according to a report in the daily newspaper “Noticias”.

A delegation from the People’s Committee of the Vietnamese province of Binh Phuoc, including the potential investors, visited the Nampula districts of Mogovolas, Ribaue and Meconta, and said they were impressed with the potential they saw there.

The head of the delegation, Truong Tan Thieu, said the agro-ecological conditions in the three districts were extremely good for cassava, cashews and timber, and the deep water port of Nacala is within easy distance for exports.

But Truong also pointed to a series of constraints – including poor roads, inadequate electricity and water supplies, and a shortage of skilled labour.

The Nampula Provincial Governor, Felismino Tocoli, admitted that these problems exist, but stressed that the Mozambican government is following development policies intended to overcome them.

Tocoli and Truong signed a set of minutes declaring their intention to implement the cooperation agreements between the Nampula provincial government and the Binh Phuoc People’s Committee that were initialled when Tocoli visited Vietnam in January 2011.

Under the latest agreement the Nampula authorities will grant the Vietnamese investors 10,000 hectares in Mogovolas for planting cashew trees, and 30 hectares on which a cashew processing plant will be built.

In Ribaue, 20,000 hectares will be made available for cassava production, and in Meconta the Vietnamese will be granted a forestry concession, and areas to install sawmills and other timber processing equipment.

While the Mozambicans will provide the cashew saplings and improved, disease-tolerant cassava varieties, the Vietnamese promise to being specialists, managers and scientific know-how, related to research into cashew and cassava cultivation techniques.

Japan to finance new fish market

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is to provide $11.6 million for the construction of a new fish market in the neighbourhood of Triunfo, along the Maputo coast road.

A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed in Maputo on 29 February by Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Koloma and the President of JICA, Ryuchi Nasu.

The future market, covering an area of two hectares, will contain stalls for the sale of fish and shellfish, an ice making plant, a unit for processing and conserving fisheries produce, and an administrative office – as well as an area for the restaurants that are one of the main attractions of the current fish market.

Maputo City Council will be responsible for the project, in partnership with JICA. The new market should be operational in 2013.

After the signing ceremony, Koloma said that the grant from JICA will help improve the management and handling of Mozambican fisheries produce and will add value to the production of small scale fishermen.

Nasu said that the location of the new market, on the Triunfo beach, is attractive, and will increase the income of the fishermen and of other nearby traders. The market would also assist in the environmental protection of the coastal area, he claimed.

Japanese companies plan fertilizer plant

The Japanese companies Toyo Engineering and Sumitomo are planning to build a gigantic fertilizer factory in the central Mozambican city of Beira.

The factory, which could be in production by 2016, would use Mozambican natural gas as the raw material to produce ammonia and urea. The factory would produce 1,750 tonnes of fertilizer a day (over 600,000 tonnes a year).

The total investment required is estimated at $1.2 billion.

The chief executive officer of Toyo Engineering, Yutaka Yamada, and the executive vice-president of Sumitomo, Takahiro Moriyama, on 22 February met with Mozambican Prime Minister Aires Ali, who is on a working visit to Japan.

After the meeting Yamada told journalists that the factory would be able to supply Mozambique’s demand for fertiliser in full and produce a surplus for export. He also thought that such a major undertaking would stimulate the emergence of a range of small and medium companies in Beira.

Moriyama was optimistic about the prospects for success. He said the two companies had received guarantees from the Mozambican authorities about the supply of natural gas, and confirmation of the land on which the factory will be built.

Ali also received guarantees from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) of $200 million of funding to rehabilitate the 304 kilometre road between Cuamba and Lichinga, the main cities in the northernmost province of Niassa.

The road will link Lichinga, the Niassa provincial capital, to the Nacala Corridor, running from the port of Nacala, through Nampula and Cuamba, cities, to Malawi.



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