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Mozambique has an increasingly important partner for its development in China, especially in infrastructure, but bilateral relations have their foundations even before the country’s independence and are now visible in emblematic works.
China gave cadres of the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) military training when the ruling party was still a guerrilla force fighting against Portuguese colonial occupation. With Frelimo in power after independence in 1975, bilateral relations passed to a state level, framed by the membership of both countries in the communist bloc.
With China’s ascendancy as an economic power, cooperation with Mozambique started to gain greater expression in the economic and financial field, as well as in infrastructure built with Chinese money.
The headquarters of the Assembly of the Republic, Attorney General’s Office, Mozambique International Airport, the Zimpeto National Stadium and the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre were all financed by China.
The most remarked and biggest project is the Maputo-Catembe bridge over the capital ‘s bay, along with some 200 kilometres of access road (including five smaller bridges) between Maputo and Ponta do Ouro.
This package alone represents a state investment of US$785 million, funded by a loan from China that will deliver it in “turnkey” mode – that is, with everything complete and ready to go – and which will start being paid back in 2019.
Dozens of Chinese companies are involved in a number of business sectors in Mozambique, including construction, commerce, hospitality and timber.
In June, China announced that it would disburse US$100 million supporting four infrastructure and education projects in Mozambique. These included a technical institute in Gorongosa in central Mozambique and Xai-Xai Airport in the south of the country, after Mozambique announced around 25 million Euros in financing for the project.
“Today, China is among one of the most important partners we have,” said Belmiro Malate, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique. An uncontested partnership which supports the state media and extends to the proliferation of Chinese shops – and which works both ways.
Mozambican businessman Dino Foi, who has been in business in China for five years, says the country has already proved that it wants a place in Africa, and that is necessary for African countries to realise the benefits of this relationship.
Taking Mozambique as an example, he points out that in recent years there has been a reduction in the volume of business between the two countries, partly linked to the economic crisis that Mozambique is experiencing, but not that alone.
He also associates it with the model of cooperation that the African country adopts.
“Mozambique has many friends, but China does not like that kind of relationship. China wants partners to have a single friend. Mozambique needs to demonstrate that it is China’s friend,” he says.
“The number of Mozambican entrepreneurs in China is still not significant, but I see work being done by both parties and I believe that, with the right decisions, we can have a promising future,” he concluded.
The third edition of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) is expected to bring together dozens of African heads of state and government in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday.
The summit will include three new countries, including Sao Tome and Principe, which will join the remaining Portuguese-speaking African countries, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.
The other two first-timers are Burkina Faso and Gambia, bringing to 53 the number of African nations with relations with China.
Since 2015, China’s annual average direct investment in the continent has been US$3 billion, with new sectors such as industry, finance, tourism and aviation the highlights.
The first China-Africa Cooperation Forum took place in Beijing in 2006 and the second edition took place in South Africa in 2015.Source: Lusa