Maputo — Mozambique’s Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, cited in Monday’s issue of the Maputo daily paper “Noticias”, has claimed that all the projects financed by the United States government, under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), to a total value of 506 million dollars, should be completed by the end of June.
Completing the projects on schedule is a key condition for Mozambique to become eligible for a second MCA “compact”.
Mozambique signed its first compact with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in 2007, and the five year implementation period began in September 2008. The money, channelled through the MCA, was to be spent on projects concentrated in the northern and central provinces.
But by November 2012, serious delays had been noted in several projects, which led the US Embassy in Maputo to issue a press release stating that the MCC was not recommending to its board that a second compact be signed with Mozambique.
The embassy did, however, add that this position could be reconsidered, if there was a sudden spurt of activity in the final months of the compact.
The delays were caused by unreliable contractors. The worst delays were in the rehabilitation of a 75 kilometre stretch of Mozambique’s main north-south highway, between Mecutuchi and the Lurio river in Nampula province, which was in the hands of a Portuguese consortium, and the construction of a new water supply system for the port city of Nacala, where the tender was won by an Indian contractor.
In mid-November, Cuereneia told AIM “All the projects should be concluded and delivered by April 2013, but due to the delays the deadline has been extended to 30 June, and there can be no further extension. The agreement with the financing agency ends on 23 September 2013”.
He added that, in the final three months of the compact, July to September 2013, the Mozambican branch of the MCA will be wound up, its Mozambican staff will return to their previous jobs, audits will be concluded, and all the remaining equipment will be redistributed.
Now Cuereneia sounds much more optimistic. He recognised that “we had problems in the component of the building works, but fortunately things are going well, and we believe that by June the work will be concluded”.
He stressed again that one of the key conditions for access to new funding from the MCC is that the projects in the first compact must be concluded on time. A further requirement is that Mozambique must meet a number of indicators set by the US, concerning the fight against malnutrition and the impact of the MCA-funded programme in the fight against poverty