Mozambique - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Infrastructure in Mozambique is generally poor and inadequate, especially in the many areas heavily affected by the war. The country has approximately 30,400 kilometers of highways, 5,685 kilometers of which are paved. Large sections of the remaining 24,175 kilometers of highway are virtually impassable during the rainy season. The World Bank is currently implementing an $850 million program to rebuild the road network, along with the coastal port system.

In addition to the road network, there is a total of 3,131 kilometers of railway, as well as 170 airports, although only 22 have paved runways (est. 1996). Major rail lines connect to South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The latter 2 countries are dependent upon railway links with Mozambique since they are landlocked and must access Mozambican ports to send exports and receive imports.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Mozambique 3 40 5 N/A 0 N/A 1.6 0.09 15
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Tanzania 4 279 21 0.0 1 N/A 1.6 0.05 25
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Recently, the Caminhos de Ferro de Mocambique (CFM), a government parastatal that formerly had monopolistic control of all ports and the railway, announced a private management concession to be awarded for management of the central railroad system. The system includes a link from Beira to Zimbabwe and the Sena line. The latter, which is critical to the development of the Zambezi River as it facilitates the export of cooking coal from Moatize in Tete Province, is in complete disrepair. As much as $500 million may be needed to reconstruct the Sena line.

There are a total of 6 ports and harbors in Mozambique, with the largest being the port of Beira. The port came under the control of the Dutch company Cornelder in 1999 following a joint venture concession with the CFM, and has undergone considerable reparation in recent years. Unfortunately, the port has suffered a decline in business activity due to the failing Zimbabwean economy. Moreover, the selling of ports and other means of production and infrastructure to foreign companies means that large portions of profits will be exported out of the country. At the same time, however, the country is in a bind because it does not have the money to pay for reparations and renovations itself (hence the privatization of the Sena line). Additionally, as Joseph Hanlon emphasizes in his book Peace Without Profit, there is also a considerable amount of pressure being exerted upon Mozambique to privatize by the IFIs.

Mozambicans consume a total of 1.018 billion kWh of electricity, 385 million kWh of which are imported from abroad. A full 75 percent of internal electricity production comes from hydro, while the remaining 25 percent is derived from fossil fuel. Located exclusively in the major cities, there is no electricity in the smaller towns and villages. The parastatal Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM) maintains a monopoly on the management of the backbone of the national grid. The EDM, which also controls the water supply system, however, has recently awarded a concession for the private management of the water supply system in 5 major cities. Privatization of the water supply can lead to decreased accessibility, as there is no governmental guarantee of fair pricing. As such, if rates to access water increase, the poor will have to cut their water intake.

Privatization has also characterized recent developments in the telecommunication sector, which has traditionally been monopolized by the government-owned national telephone company (TDM). The introduction of legislation legalizing the privatization of the telecommunication sector in 1999 led to the transformation of the TDM into a public enterprise with 100 percent of the shares owned by government. The government is currently selecting a strategic private investor to whom it can sell a 30 percent share, with the most likely candidate being the Portuguese firm Telecom. In 1999, there were only 4.0 telephone mainlines per 1,000 people, a dismal contrast to the United States where there were 640 mainlines per 1,000 people in 1996.

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