Maputo — The director of the Mozambican government's Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), Lourenco Sambo, regards the Arab world as "a sleeping giant", offering opportunities from which Mozambique should seek to draw the maximum possible advantage.
Speaking to Mozambican reporters, who are in the Libyan city of Sirte for the Afro-Arab summit on Sunday, Sambo said "if we look at the world economy, we see that only now are the countries of the Middle East beginning to use their money to invest abroad. They have reached the conclusion that cannot keep so much money that is doing absolutely nothing".
Sambo said that the potential of Mozambique should attract Middle Eastern investors, despite the enormous challenges facing the country in terms of infrastructures. He believed that Arab countries themselves could play an important role in solving this problem.
Mozambique's macro-economic stability was another attractive factor which the country should capitalise on. "We should understand that Mozambique is an exemplary country in terms of growth", Sambo said. "We have to bring this information to the Arab world to attract this market".
As a pre-eminently agricultural country, Mozambique enjoyed "a comparative advantage", since one of the major challenges facing the world is food security. Other major potential included mineral resources such as coal, natural gas and possibly oil.
Currently, however, relations between Mozambique and the Arab world are still "tenuous", said Sambo, restricted largely to the granting of loans.
Sambo had a vision of Mozambique becoming a major food exporter. "The population of the city of Cairo alone is almost the same as the entire population of Mozambique", he said. "All these people must be fed. They have money and we have land. So we just have to adjust national agricultural policies to stimulate investment in this area".
He added that Mozambique could take advantage of the experience of the Arab world, which possesses highly developed agricultural institutes. Because so much of the land in Arab countries is arid, enormous investments have been made in new technologies, and Sambo believed Mozambique could capitalise on this.
Sambo said the CPI is now in the process of opening a delegation in the Middle East. However, in the past there was a CPI delegation in Dubai that was supposed to attract Arab investment. It had to be closed, when it did not produce the desired results.
Currently, the CPI has delegations in Shanghai and in Brussels, and is studying the possibility of opening one in the Spanish city of Seville.