Maputo — Mozambique's Minister of Industry and Trade, Ragendra de Sousa, on Thursday called for substituting imports by reactivating industries that have been paralysed for years, or even decades.
Speaking in Maputo, at a meeting of the Coordinating Council of his ministry, Sousa pointed out that Mozambique imports about 15 million dollars worth of tyres every year, yet it has its own tyre factory, Mabor, on the outskirts of the capital, which is producing nothing.
"The glasses from which we drink our water are all imported, yet we have the glass factory Vidreira", he added.
He pointed out that, with the exploitation of the enormous natural gas fields in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, "in about eight years time, the income of Mozambicans will grow, and when that happens the type of goods citizens want changes to the goods that are supplied by light industries".
The country would need to produce refrigerators, batteries, radios, among other products, and the first step towards this would be to ensure that the existing factories are all working again.
"These products that I mentioned were once produced here in Mozambique", said Sousa. "So it's not very difficult to draw up a strategy. It's to make a survey of the factories we have in the country and which are paralysed, and to stimulate the national business class, individually or in associations, to get them producing again".
One of the companies, Sousa mentioned, Mabor, was the fruit of a partnership with the American firm General Tire. It was once a showpiece, and visiting heads of state were shown round the factory. But the American investors walked away, and Mabor has been derelict for over two decades.
Attempts to sell it to Portuguese and then to Chinese investors came to nothing, and in 2017 it was decided that the premises should be turned into a printing shop to produce school books. That too has not happened.
As for Vidreira, this was a state-run glassware company that was privatised in the 1990s. In the late 1990s it was privatised, but the new owner, the Portuguese company Barbosa e Almeida, abandoned it in 1998, just two years after purchasing it.
Sousa was optimistic about future prospects for the Mozambican economy, following the final Investment Decision announced last month by the US company Anadarko for the production of liquefied natural gas from offshore area one of the Rovuma Basin.
He told participants in the meeting that they should work "so that in a short period we can be assertive, pro-active and inclusive in this new stage of the economic progress of Mozambique".