Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has said he hopes Botswana will increase the use of Maputo port for its imports and exports.
He was speaking in Gaberone at the start of a three day state visit to Botswana, at the invitation of his Botswana counterpart, Ian Khama.
Speaking at a lunch offered by Khama, Nyusi said that Mozambique is expanding the capacity of Maputo port so that it can handle much larger vessels than in the past. “We think another opportunity has been opened for Botswana to use Maputo for its trade”, he added.
In February, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) announced the conclusion of the dredging of the access channel from 11 to 14.2 metres, allowing ships of up to 80,000 tonnes to dock, and making the port more competitive on the regional and international markets.
Nyusi added that Maputo could be complemented with a new deep water port, at Techobanine, in Mozambique’s southern most district of Matutuine. This port is still at the phase of studies, assessment and negotiation.
“Techobanine port, in the framework of the effective growth and diversification of our economies, will be a strategic asset for Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe”, he stressed.
Khama agreed. He stressed the need for Botswana and Mozambique to step up their efforts to ensure that Techobanine port is indeed built, and that a new railway line connecting the port to Botswana is also built.
“The development of this vital transport corridor will make it possible to exploit the potential of both countries and will also contribute to greater regional integration”, he added.
Nyusi also asked Botswana for its assistance in exploiting mineral resources in Mozambique. “Since Mozambique is at the phase of discovering its mineral resources, and in an embryonic phase of exploiting them, we would like to benefit from the experience of Botswana in capitalizing on our gains, and making them sustainable catalysts of economic growth and the welfare of our people”, he said.
Nyusi invited Botswanan businesses to participate actively in implementing the existing “anchor projects” in Mozambique, especially in the areas of the development corridors, the generation and transmission of electricity, tourism, agriculture and livestock, and mining.
“We believe that your participation in these and other projects may encourage the socio-economic development of our two countries and stimulate regional integration”, he added.
Nyusi noted that, in the recent past, Mozambique and Botswana were in the same battle, fighting side by side to overcome foreign rule, “but today we enjoy the conditions to win in the struggle for social and economic development”.
Earlier in the day, Nyusi met with the delegation of about 20 Mozambican business people who had accompanied him to Gaberone, and stressed to them that the reason they had come was to raise the level of economic relations between Mozambique and Botswana.
In the afternoon, Nyusi visited the company IMPACTI Genetics, which is a centre for the genetic improvement of cattle, and received a detailed explanation of its operations from its managing director, Monty Chiepe.
IMPACTI has lengthy experience in cattle production, and beef is a major export, notably to the European Union.
Chiepe strongly defends the use of genetic techniques to improve both milk and beef cattle. Currently, he said, Botswana’s domestic production of milk is not sufficient to meet demand – but this problem could be overcome in the near future with the genetics improvement of the milk herd.
As for beef cattle, Chiepe said that, thanks to genetic improvement, some breeds of cattle now reach a weight of 400 kilos in a period of about 15 months. (In Mozambique, cattle breeders scarcely manage a weight of 100 kilos per animal).
“This success wasn’t easy”, said Chiepe, “since it requires a change of mentality among the peasant farmers themselves. The peasants have to view cattle production as a commercial activity”.
Mozambique’s Deputy Agriculture Minister, Luisa Meque, one of those accompanying Nyusi, said that Mozambique has an opportunity to learn from Botswana’s livestock experience.
“We want greater production of meat in Mozambique, using the technologies presented to us here, especially the transfer of embryos and artificial insemination”, she said. The major challenge “is to produce good quality meat in a shorter time, so that we can supply our domestic market and later possibly export beef”.