Maputo — The total investment required in Mozambique's transport and communications infrastructures over the next five years is in excess of 400 billion meticais (about 14.3 billion US dollars), Transport Minister Paulo Zucula told a Maputo press conference on Friday.
This dwarfs the amount invested over the past three years. Zucula said that, since 2009, the government and its private sector partners have invested over 28 billion meticais in ports, railways, civil aviation, roads and telecommunications.
This was much lower than required given the pressure from private investment in other sectors of the economy. "The expectations are enormous and our internal resources are scarce", said Zucula.
The immediate projects, beginning this year, and costed at over 150 billion meticais, are aimed at solving the logistical problems involved in transporting huge volumes of coal from the mines in the Moatize coal basin, in Tete province, to the sea.
Thus the existing Sena railway, from Moatize to the port of Beira, which can currently carry a maximum of six million tonnes a year, will be graded so that it can handle 18 million tonnes.
At the same time, the port of Nacala and the existing northern railway from Malawi to Nacala will be rehabilitated, and a new coal terminal built in Nacala-a-Velha, on the other side of Nacala bay from the current port. Entirely new stretches of railway will be built, from Moatize to Malawi, and from Mossoril to Nacala-a-Velha, making it possible to take coal shipments to Nacala.
After these investments, "within 3 years we shall have the capacity to move about 50 million tonnes of coal a year".
But it is thought that, by 2025, total coal exports will reach 100 million tonnes a year. So under preparation are projects budgeted at over 200 billion meticais, including a second line from Moatize to Nacala, but which would not pass through Malawi. This will require laying hundreds of kilometres of new track across Zambezi province.
A further project is for a new port at Macusi, in Zambezi, and a third new railway line, linking it to Moatize.
Zucula stressed that none of the new railways will be the private property of mining companies. They must be available to move the coal produced by all the companies and not just by the one holding the lease on the rail line.
Furthermore, "the government observes the principle of universal access", said Zucula. "that is, the railways and ports to be built, although coal is their 'Anchor Project', must also carry other cargo and passengers, in order to promote the spatial development of the areas covered".
"We hope that by 2017, we will have reached the expected capacity for transporting coal, while encouraging agricultural development, improving agricultural marketing and laying the foundations for regional economic integration".