Mozambican ports need roads and railroads to assert themselves in the region? ? Mateus Magala

?Portos moçambicanos precisam de estradas e ferrovias para afirmarem-se na região? ? Mateus Magala

The Minister of Transport, Mateus Magala, defended in an interview to Lusa that the national ports are asserting themselves as an alternative on the Indian coast of Southern Africa, but need to be connected to new roads and railroads.

Our roads were not built to support the loads that are being transported" and, in addition, "the road is not the only solution," he said.

"We had a tradition of rail transportation" that "has been losing competitiveness," the minister described.

However, according to the governor, the situation "is changing" because the country has begun "to invest again in railroads?, so that there are inter-modal connections that match the current context of opportunity for Mozambican ports.

Demand for the ports of Maputo (south), Beira (center) and Nacala (north) has increased considerably in recent years, with regional operators seeking alternatives to the pressure on the ports of Durban and Richards Bay, in neighboring South Africa, said Mateus Magala.

It was not an automatic process: it was not only the problems in South Africa that translated into successes for Mozambique. Our country was already prepared and up to the task of offering competitive advantages? he considered.

Only in the main Mozambican port, in Maputo, according to official data, cargo handling increased from 18.4 million tons in 2020 to 26.7 million tons in 2022, a record result, he said.

Magala says it is the visible face of a total investment of $700 million since the infrastructure was awarded the concession in 2003.

Mozambique has put the necessary infrastructure in place, developed the corridors, put discipline in place, and bet on digitalization," he emphasized.

"The level of theft, which was something that scared exporters, today is at zero," the minister added.

So, "when things don't work out on the other side [in South Africa], our country becomes an alternative? said the Minister of Transport and Communications.

The integration of ports into an effective inter-modal system is a challenge that persists, he stressed.

Besides the revitalization of the railway system, another option that may be viable is the sea, in a country with more than 2,500 kilometers of coastline, but this sector is not ?cheap? warned the governor.

?cabotage only works when there is cargo from one point to the other" and the Maritime Industry "is capital intensive?, observed the governor, adding that the solution is to define public-private strategies to meet the demands of the sector.

According to the minister, any solution must be accompanied by legislation that stimulates investment.

"We have to look at our legal instruments and make them adequate to support the private sector to carry out its task of producing in the most efficient way," Magala stressed.

If the right infrastructure and legislation can be combined, the "necessary incentives" will be in place for the best means of transportation to be naturally chosen by those who invest.

Mateus Magala was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications in June 2022, roughly halfway through President Filipe Nyusi's second term in office, replacing Janfar Abdulai.

Until his appointment, he was vice-president of Institutional and Human Resources Services at the African Development Bank (ADB), the first Mozambican to reach a vice-presidency in the 54 years of the institution.

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