• The 8th Congress of the Engineering Association of Portugal in Maputo insists on training and basic infrastructure to better service the essential needs of the population.

  • Infrastructure in Mozambique is also critical for the exports of its natural resources.

By levy-sergio mutemba

The Engineering Association of Portugal (EAP) considers education and basic infrastructures to be the main challenges that engineers of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries Community (Comunidade de Países de Língua Portuguesa, CPLP) are facing today.

Taking part to a four-day professional annual congress (the 8th edition) that brings together Mozambican and Portuguese experts in Maputo, starting today, EAP’s president Carlos Mineiro Aires underscored the challenge of helping developing countries build more basic infrastructures.

The bâtonnier added that if robotized and automated infrastructure are emerging as new norms in the most developed and a few emerging countries, it remains that developing economies such as Mozambique still lack many of the most basic infrastructures, most notably those for water and essential utility services distribution. It is indeed estimated that only 20% of the Mozambican population have access to power, while in rural areas this number falls to as low as 5%.

Sunbird - Water Capacity - 2017 Market Report Mozambique

Source: Sunbird – Mozambique 2017 Market Report

A new memorandum is being studied currently, following the one signed in 2004, with the aim of enhancing mobility of both Mozambican and Portuguese engineering who desire to work in one another country respectively. The new draft should further improve their relations and establish best-practice mechanisms.

Infrastructures are all the more critical for the country to fully exploit its vast extractive resources. “The single biggest obstacle to the full development of Mozambique’s coal reserves is the extremely poor, fragile and unreliable infrastructure”, say experts from construction and support services group Sunbird in their Mozambique Market Report 2017.

Sunbird Infrastructure Index - 2017 Market Report Mozambique

Roads, for instance, are among the least developed in the region. Of a total of 30.000 km of classified roads only less than 7.000 are paved. In 2013, it cost Mozambique more than $180 million to rehabilitate heavily damaged roads located in the Rovuma River basin due to extreme weather.

According to Sunbird, what will become Africa’s longest suspension bridge, the Catembe Bridge, is expected to be completed in 2017, along with the connecting road which stretches all the way to the South African border. “Once complete the journey time from Johannesburg to Maputo is expected to be cut from between six and eight hours to four”, adds the Sunbird’s report.

Sunbird - Road Potential - 2017 Market Report Mozambique

Source: Sunbird – Mozambique 2017 Market Report

Rail and port networks are also very critical for Mozambique’s exports of its mineral resources. It is estimated that about $20 billion are needed to make Mozambican rails and ports a reality. Within the Nacala Corridor Project, one of the most important for the development of the coal industry, the Vale Rail project, completed in 2015 at a cost of $4.5 billion, consists in a new track of 201 km and two viaducts, with the capacity to transport 14 million tons of coal this year.

As for Nacala Port, the deepest natural port in East Africa, though it saw a second upgrade in 2016, with an additional investment of $270 million financed by the Japanese Government, the terminal remains unable to meet demand. Regarding the Beira Corridor, Beira Port is highly strategic for the import and export of various goods and not only coal.

“It is a key entry/exit point for neighbouring Zimbabwe”, specify Sunbird’s experts, explaining that in addition to the rail link, there is a pipeline used for oil imports and that the port has a general cargo capacity of 2.3 million tons per annum and a container capacity of 100,000.

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