Paris — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared in Paris on Friday that Mozambique is open to new French initiatives in various spheres of cooperation, particularly in economic matters, and in security in the Mozambique Channel.
Guebuza expressed this openness in meetings he held on Friday, the first day of a three day working visit to France, with his host, French President Francois Hollande, at the Elysee Palace, and later with representatives of dozens of French companies.
Briefing the Mozambican journalists accompanying the visit, Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, said it had been agreed at the meetings to deepen cooperation between Mozambique and France in various spheres.
'This is a very fruitful and promising visit', said Banze. 'Our President has shown openness and the two sides have agreed that cooperation should be deepened. The assessment is that relations are good, but there is space to expand them'.
As for security in the Mozambique Channel, Banze said this is important both for Mozambique and for France, which has several island possessions in or near the Channel, such as Reunion and Mayotte.
'In an initial phase we shall see how this is to be done', said Banze, 'but for now we shall exchange information on what is going on at sea, because there is a lot of fishing and other activity. There are resources that must be protected along the Mozambique Channel, and there is also the problem of piracy to which the country cannot remain indifferent'.
As for the Mozambican order for the construction of 24 fihsing boats and six patrol vessels at a shipyard in Cherbourg, Banze said the matter had been discussed in Friday's meetings.
'It's a question that was touched upon', he said, 'This shows concern about activities such as fishing - it is known that Mozambique is interested in developing fishing since this is vital in the fight against poverty'.
The boats were also 'an important component in controlling the security of the Mozambique Channel', Banze added, but gave no further details.
The purchase of the boats was announced in the French press, before any Mozambican source had mentioned it. The order represents two years' work for the Cherbourg shipyard. The official announcement was made by the French Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg.
The French media put the cost of the vessesl at 200 million euros (about 267 million US dollars), although in some of the French sources the figure rises to 300 million euros.
The money will come from a 500 million dollar bond issue by a new Mozambican company EMATUM (National Tuna Company). To all intents and purposes, EMATUM is a state company. The major shareholder in EMATUM is the Institute for the Management of State Holdings (IGEPE) with 34 per cent. The other shareholders are the state fishing company Emopesca and GIPS (Management of Investments, Holdings and Services), with 33 per cent each. GIPS was set up in December 2011, and its main shareholder is the social services of the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).
Last week, Finance Minister Manuel Chang assured reporters that none of the money would come from the Mozambican state budget. The Mozambican state only entered the deal as a guarantor of the bonds, he said.
During his meeting with the business representatives, Guebuza praised the work of some of the French companies already operating in Mozambique, said Banze. He also noted that others want to enter the Mozambican market, including Air France. Should Air France decide to re-open the Maputo-Paris route, this will give travellers to Europe a convenient alternative to the current routes (via Lisbon, Johannesburg, Nairobi or Addis Ababa).
Banze added that Guebuza has invited Hollande to visit Mozambique on dates to be agreed through diplomatic channels.