Maputo — The Chinese government has pledged to grant 60 million US dollars to Mozambique to build an airport at Xai-Xai, capital of the southern province of Gaza.
An agreement to this effect was signed in Maputo on Friday by Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi and Chinese ambassador Su Jian.
The agreement also covers a grant of 100 Chinese buses, and the installation of a satellite television system in 500 Mozambican villages.
Baloi, cited in Monday's issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, told the ceremony that the construction of an airport at Xai-Xai “is an economic undertaking that will place Gaza on the circuit of the country's airport connections, not only allowing the mobility of persons and goods, but also serving as an alternative airport, or as a platform for responding to emergency situations, in the event of natural disasters”.
He thought that the airport “will put Gaza province in the regional and international matrix bearing in mind the potential of the province in tourism and other sectors”.
The new buses, Baloi said, “are another contribution from China to mitigate the adverse effects caused by the lack of decent transport in the various cities of our country”.
As for the satellite television project, this “seeks to expand access to information for the population of the rural areas, contributing in this way to raise the human development index”.
For his part, the ambassador pledged continued Chinese support to the countries of the region, notably Mozambique. China would strengthen cooperation in all areas “to transform Mozambique's great development potential into concrete results that benefit the Mozambican people”.
The 100 buses cost 50 million yuan, equivalent to around 7.5 million US dollars.
Both the Xai-Xai airport and the satellite television project are dependent on viability studies, As for the buses, they are scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2018.
Xai-Xai is the only provincial capital that has no airport. But the supposed need for an airport has been questioned, given Xai-Xai's proximity to Maputo.
The last new airport built was in the northern city of Nacala, inaugurated in 2014 by the then President, Armando Guebuza. But not a single foreign airline has shown an interest in flying to Nacala. The only air company flying to Nacala is Mozambique Airlines (LAM), with just two flights a week.