Maputo — Mozambique is at a turning point in its economic growth, thanks to the recent major discoveries of mineral resources, according to John Whitehead, leader of a group of nine executive directors of the World Bank who ended a visit to the country on Sunday.
This is the third high level World Bank delegation to visit Mozambique since the start of the year.
Speaking to reporters shortly before the group's departure, Whitehead said the Bank is interested in helping Mozambique transform its economic growth into improved living conditions and poverty reduction. He added that the Bank is concerned that the high rates of economic growth in recent years have not yet been reflected in the lives of ordinary Mozambicans.
He claimed that the Bank, at its highest level, is concerned about poverty, and, when granting funding to any country, it always asks whether such funding will help solve the problems of poverty, and what impact it will have on gender equality and on the treatment of children.
"Mozambique is registering major economic development, which has still not managed to cover everybody", he stressed. "This development has not yet been converted into improvement and progress in living conditions".
Whitehead added that the government needed to establish the conditions so that the country's mineral resources bring benefits to all Mozambicans.
"Our impression is that Mozambique is on the right path, but it needs to create all the requirements for bringing the benefits of mineral resources to the entire Mozambican people", he said. "The wealth is important as long as it is used for the benefit of the people. The macro-economic situation is under control, and Mozambique has a good opportunity to fight poverty and create jobs". While recognizing the importance of mineral resources, Whitehead stressed that adequate investment was also needed in areas such as agriculture, which were also important for poverty reduction. "Space must be opened so that agriculture can play its role to ensure long term employment", he said. "It is also necessary to invest more in health and education".
The group of World Bank directors visited Mozambique for three days . The nine members represented 70 countries on five continents. The last time Mozambique received such a large delegation from the Bank was 18 years ago.
The purpose of the visit was for the directors to understand the concerns of the government, private business and civil society, and obtain impressions of the impact of World Bank projects in Mozambique.