Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique, is set to attend the 2nd Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai on 1-2 October, a month after his meeting with opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to cement a peace deal ending two years of hostilities ahead of fresh elections.
The restoration of stability comes at a pivotal time for the country as it plays catch up with its infrastructure and develops LNG opportunities – an appropriate timing for the leader to join four other African presidents on the topic of “leading the continent towards change”.
Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, Senegalese President Macky Sall, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, will be joined by the Prime Ministers of Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Malawi, as well as the former Botswanan President Festus Mogae and Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote.
The UAE is meanwhole one of the main investors in Mozambique’s growing economy, and according to Mozambique’s official figures was the largest investor in 2012, contributing to 20 projects worth $309m – largely funding a railway to unlock Mozambique’s coal deposits.
Running from the Moatize coal basin, Tete province, through southern Malawi to a coal terminal on the other side of the bay from the existing port of Nacala, the railway is owned by Vale, a Brazilian mining company, but the UAE contributed $196.5m in investment.
In 2013, the UAE’s input was a more modest $53m, but there is also a link to Mozambique through the running of the Maputo container terminal by Dubai port operator DP World, which extended its concession to 2033 in 2010, with an option to extend it a further 10 years.
More recently, paper and pulp giant Sappi Southern Africa, agreed to route all of its dissolved wood pulp exports from its mill in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, through the DP World container terminal, booking a dedicated berth and a terminal area of 13 ha.
Sappi CEO Alex Thiel pointed to the deal as a benefit of the regional cooperation between SADC member States, as well as to the importance of the Maputo Development Corridor.
From 2010 to 2012, the Port of Maputo experienced a 50% rise in the amount of cargo handled, increasing from 10 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes, and the maritime hub is expected to grow further to 17-million tonnes in 2013 and reach 40 million tonnes by 2020.
The forum, however, will be one of the last official engagements for President Guebuza as he stands down on 15 October after the new elections, having served two terms in office, leaving behind a newly reconciled Mozambique and brighter prospects for the future.