Second bridge over the Zambezi River opens in Mozambique

The second bridge over the Zambezi River in Tete, which is 715 metres long and was built by a consortium of Portuguese companies, was inaugurated Wednesday, after construction began in 2011. The bridge, which connects the city of Tete to the Moatize district, which has the largest deposits of coal in Mozambique, was completed last October.

The new bridge is an integrant part of the National Road EN103, which is the main connection between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and allows the connection of Malawi and Zambia with the Beira Port. The National Road EN103 assumes itself as the main axis connecting north-south, linking South Africa to Malawi / Zambia.

The bridge as a whole is composed by the bridge itself which crosses the Zambezi riverbed, and an access viaduct to access the bridge from the south side.

The work, costing 105 million euros, was executed by a Portuguese consortium of contractors made up of Mota-Engil, Soares da Costa and Opway and, as well as the bridge, overpass and access roads, included rebuilding 260 kilometres of roads linking Tete to the borders with Malawi and Zimbabwe.

As part of the “New Tete Bridge and Roads” concession the project was designed for movement of heavy vehicles that currently cross the Samora Machel bridge, relieving pressure on the bridge, also on the Zambezi River, which was built over 50 years ago.

The new bridge is named Kassuende in honour of a place in the district of Marávia that between 1968 and 1974 was a logistics base in Mozambique’s armed liberation struggle. Source: Macauhub & Betar.pt

Non-Tariff Barriers – SADC Secretariat requested to intervene in Mozambique

0b8a0ce6140c04b4f629a97cb5e8d8f34e69d4a1The SADC, COMESA and EAC Tripartite alliance has been urged by various Zimbabwean, Zambian and Malawian exporters to salvage a potential crippling situation occurring at Mozambique borders. This follows the recent implementation of a new transit bond guarantee system which in conjunction with the Single Window system is allegedly causing significant delays, including loss of business and spiralling demurrage for transit goods emanating from these landlocked countries, en route for export from various Mozambique ports, Beira in particular.

Complaint no. NTB-000-578 in terms of ‘Lengthy and costly customs clearance procedures’ was lodged and can be viewed in full on the Tripartite’s NTB portal. Amongst the various problems sited, the complainants request the following of Mozambique –

  • Mozambique Ministry of Finance is requested to get customs to consider a parallel system to run with the electronic single window programme to clear the backlog in Beira port now and also consider providing release against Report orders to reduce further downtime in port . This will be a stop-gap measure until the customs staff are well versed , fully trained and that the new system can work well.
  • Mozambique authorities to facilitate arrangements with Cornelder to consider waiving storage for this special situation or at least offer 75% credit on the bills due which I must say are now astronomical based on the days the cargo has stayed in port both imports and exports.
  • Mozambique authorities to facilitate arrangements with shipping lines to consider waiving completely the demurrage due on the empty containers or at least give say 15-21 more days grace period before demurrage starts accruing.
  • Mozambique authorities to facilitate arrangements that Mozambique customs get technical assistance to assist roll this new programme out without causing huge catastrophes like this.

Mozambique has acknowledged the complaint and expressed regret over the developments. Mozambique reported that the issue was receiving urgent attention and they would provide feed back shortly.

Malawi – expresses interest in Single Window

The Southern African Trade Hub (SATH) presented the National Single Window (NSW) concept as one of the most effective tools in trade facilitation to the Ministry of Trade, Malawi Revenue Authority and other public and private sector organizations in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively during May 2012. The presentation highlighted the great benefits accruing to countries that have implemented the NSW. A case study of Thailand was discussed, indicating how Thailand was ranking position 108 in the Trading Across Border Index by the World Bank in 2007 and remarkably improved to position 10 in 2009 after implementing their NSW. Malawi is currently ranked at 164 out of the 183 countries assessed.

A single window is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents through a single entry point to fulfill import, export and transit regulatory requirements. The benefits accruing to the NSW include substantial decrease in clearance time, substantial increase in government revenues, clear identification of roles and responsibilities in the clearance process and accurate, consistent and real time statistics. The presentation also highlighted that while there are different models of implementing the single window, the public-private partnership (PPP) model achieved results in a short period of time and was implemented efficiently due to the technical expertise and efficient processes brought in by the private sector. It was also emphasized that it was critical to have all stakeholders’ buy-in for the successful implementation of the NSW.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade and other stakeholders agreed in principle to establish a NSW using the PPP but a cabinet memo to secure formal approval of NSW will only be prepared after SATH has facilitated a more technical and practical presentation by one of the countries already using this tool. Source: SA Trade Hub

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WHO Tobacco Proposal – Threatened farmers slam ‘outreagous recommendations’

FTW Online recently reported that representatives of hundreds of thousands of African tobacco farmers are gathering at the International Tobacco Growers Association Africa Regional Meeting this week to discuss what they see as outrageous recommendations being developed by international regulators that they believe would destroy their livelihoods.

Farmer leaders attending the meeting from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will focus on the recommendations provided by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) working group on Articles 17 & 18. The FCTC originally recommended that governments of these countries should help tobacco farmers find viable economic alternative crops, assuming that tobacco demand will decline.

Very little research on alternative, economically viable crops has been undertaken and as the group recognizes, any future research will require lengthy time trials. “However, the FCTC has now put forward unreasonable and absurd measures to phase out tobacco production, without offering the vast African farming community any viable fall-back solutions,” the farmers claim.

Numerous countries, such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania now face the prospect of seeing millions of jobs lost and a huge decline in the export of tobacco. Tobacco cultivation is critical for the economy in these countries and one of the few agricultural activities to have remained buoyant during the recent worldwide economic crisis. The latest guidelines drafted by bureaucrats in Geneva threaten to undo that for no clear benefit.

“These guidelines are just plain wrong whichever way you look at them. Nobody has explained to me how banning some cigarette products and ignoring others will have any benefit for people’s health,” said Roger Quarles, President of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA). “It will just be a disaster for those growers who grow leaf for traditional blended products.” The ITGA represents more than thirty million tobacco growers across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. “We call on governments all over the world to support growers by adopting a common sense approach and discarding these irrational and potentially economically devastating guidelines.”

The Case of Malawi

The association says switching from tobacco in Malawi to other crops is unrealistic as it would require huge investments, pointing out that tobacco is by far cheaper to produce and benefits more people than most of the next best alternatives. “For example, investment required for a farmer in Malawi to grow two hectares of flowers is equivalent to the investment required to grow 1 000 hectares of burley tobacco. The difference is that 1 000 hectares of burley tobacco provides a livelihood for 500 farmers. So, given that the average farmer in Malawi only has two hectares at his disposal, switching to flowers is simply unrealistic”.

ITGA says one crop that has been recognised as being more profitable than tobacco in Malawi and other tobacco-growing countries is paprika. But the association says world demand for paprika is only 120 000 tonnes. “A single country like Zimbabwe could cope with this demand but the result would be overproduction of paprika and the impact on exiting paprika growers would be catastrophic,” it says. The association also argues that a farmer that grows burley tobacco cannot switch to Virginia tobacco because Virginia tobacco has an industrial curing process requiring huge investment and needs a much greater area than burley “in order to be profitable.”

Tobacco is Malawi’s most important cash crop, accounting for nearly 60 percent of total export earnings and makes up 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is also the single largest employer, with more than two million people directly or indirectly relying on the crop. With such an influence, paralysing the industry could cripple the economy in a way that may take the country decades to recover. Sources: FTW Online, TIMSA, and Buisness Wire.

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