Maputo — The European Union on Thursday agreed to provide Mozambique with 41 million euros (about 50 million US dollars) to support local economic development, the rule of law, and non-state actors.
The agreement formalising this support was signed in Maputo by Mozambique's Deputy Foreign Minister, Henrique Banze, and the head of the EU delegation in Mozambique, Paul Malin. The ceremony was witnessed by President Armando Guebuza, and by the President of the European Commission, Jose Durao Barroso, who is in the country to attend Friday's heads of state summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).
The support for local economic development accounts for 27 million euros, and "will fundamentally contribute to support our districts", said Banze. The money will be spent in the districts of Sofala province, in the centre of the country, and of Inhambane and Gaza in the south. Through this aid, the government hopes to "empower the districts" by providing them with a greater capacity for production and productivity.
"Our expectation is that we will continue to work with the European Union in these and other areas to reach our ultimate goal, which is the fight against poverty and the development of our country", declared Banze.
Malin said that EU is one of Mozambique's largest and oldest partners, and the agreement bears witness to their longstanding cooperation.
"By supporting the rule of law, we are supporting not only the government, but also all the powers of state, including the Assembly of the Republic (the Mozambican parliament), and the legal system", he said. "Thus we have balanced support for good governance and economic development in Mozambique".
As for assisting non-state actors, in this area the EU aid is intended to strengthen the action of civil society and of youth organisations. The grant for strengthening the rule of law is nine million euros, and for non-state actors it is five million.
For his part, in brief remarks to the press, Durao Barroso, declared himself impressed with Mozambique's development. "I recall that when I visited this country many times in the past, it was still at war, and there was no institutionalized democratic regime", he said. "Today, although there are still great challenges, it is a democracy, it is a country at peace, and it is consolidating its national reconstruction".
"It is a country with enormous economic potential, and the European Union certainly has every intention of continuing to support Mozambique", he added.
"To give you some idea of this", Barroso said, "if we consider the aid from the European Union channeled through the European Commission and through the member states, then about 75 per cent of Mozambique's development aid comes from the European Union. In addition we are also the main trading partner and the largest investor in Mozambique. This is the strength of a relationship we want to become still more important for the future".