The primacy of manufacturing in unlocking Africa's potential

Mozambique’s 3 transport corridors hold vast potential

After being neglected for years, Mozambique’s transportation infrastructure has drastically improved in recent years due to the growing economic opportunities in the region. Once considered one of the most dilapidated transportation systems in the world, it is now being revitalised through both public and private funding. Extensive development is underway in ports, rail systems, and roads.

The Mozambican Government is currently developing three corridors that provide export outlets for Mozambique’s neighbours. These three projects are:

The Nacala Corridor

The Nacala Corridor project was developed with the aim of growing the economy of the SADC region and increasing exports through the Port of Nacala, Southern Africa’s deepest harbour and Mozambique’s most northerly.

The corridor is potentially profitable, as it has a natural market in neighbouring landlocked Malawi. The 800 km railway from Nacala to Malawi was upgraded by donors during the early 1990s, apart from the final 75 km to the Malawi border, which is in a poor state of repair.

Management of the port and the 800 km railway line to Malawi was assumed by a consortium of US, Portuguese and Mozambican companies, the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento do Corredor de Nacala (SDCN) in 2005. Investment in the line has been delayed by a still-ongoing dispute with the Mozambican authorities over interference in its management.

The corridor is also due to have roads built to link Zambia and Malawi with Ncala.

The link with Zambia will soon be strengthened as Zambia Railways Ltd (ZRL) intends to start transporting copper from its North-Western and Copperbelt provinces to Ncala via the Mchinji-Ncala Railway. ZRL managing director Muyenga Atanga says the Nacala corridor is the cheapest route for transporting cargo from Zambia, not to mention from Malawi and Mozambique itself. “We want most of the cargo from the mines to find its route to the Indian Ocean through the Port of Nacala,” says Atanga.

A passenger line is also in the works, which will connect Chipata in Zambia with Mozambique via Malawi.

The Maputo Development Corridor

The Maputo Development Corridor was created in 1996 with the aim of upgrading Maputo port and improving the rail and road links between Maputo and South Africa in order to attract more South African traffic to the port. This is the most important of Mozambique’s three corridors, given the close economic ties between Mozambique and South Africa.

In June 2000 a French-led international consortium, Trans-African Concessions, opened a private toll road running from Maputo to South Africa’s industrial heartland under a 30-year concession.

The corridor’s main hubs are Johannesburg, Pretoria, Middelburg, Nelspruit and Maputo.

The corridor is also part of a bigger plan, which is to link Windhoek in the west on the Atlantic Ocean with Maputo in the east on the Indian Ocean.

The Beira Corridor

Prospects for the Beira corridor have been hit by instability in Zimbabwe – the main client for the port – where the economic crisis has caused a significant decline in traffic to the port, which is managed by a Dutch port operator, Cornelder de Mocambique.

In 2005 the Danish Government agreed to finance the US$53m rehabilitation of the port, which involved expanding storage facilities and dredging the harbour to enable large-draught ships to moor permanently. In 2004 an Indian company, Rites, won the tender to operate the rail line from Beira to Zimbabwe and has now taken over the management of the line. In addition, rehabilitation is under way, at a cost of US$260m, of the 550 km Sena railway line, which runs from Dondo, outside Beira, to Moatize in Tete province, the site of large coal deposits.

Brazilian mining giant Vale (formerly CVRD) began developing these mines in 2007, which will provide the main traffic for the railway and will involve the development of a dedicated coal terminal north of Beira. Another branch from the Moatize line connecting with the large sugar mill at Marromeu in Sofala province is also due for rehabilitation.

In June of this year Shelton, a locomotive rental company based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was commissioned to the tune of $68 billion to supply 16 new General Electric (GE) locomotives to Moatize for use in coal transportation. And those 16 engines are just to be the first.

David Okwara

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