Pass­ing in­spec­tion

Finweek English Edition - - Economic Trends & Analysis - HOWARD PREECE

THE ECON­OMY OF Mozam­bique is, on the sur­face, mov­ing im­pres­sively up­stream against a par­tic­u­larly strong cur­rent. An in­spec­tion team from the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund vis­ited the coun­try last month. The main con­clu­sion from this IMF mis­sion was: “Mozam­bique’s macroe­co­nomic per­for­mance in 2008 has re­mained strong. Growth this year is pro­jected to slow only to 6,5% from 7% in 2007.”

Given the gloomy out­look that’s over­taken the world econ­omy gen­er­ally in re­cent months, that would seem yet more con­fir­ma­tion of its sta­tus as the lead “tiger” of sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. How­ever, just a few months ear­lier Mozam­bique’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion ap­peared far less cheery. In June the eco­nomics depart­ment of Stan­dard Bank ob­served: “Eco- nomic ac­tiv­ity in Mozam­bique slowed to 3,5% year-on-year in the first quar­ter of 2008 from 10,3% in the pre­ced­ing three months.”

But there were spe­cial cir­cum­stances at work then – cru­cially, the ma­jor power sup­ply prob­lems be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by SA’s elec­tric­ity util­ity, Eskom. Stan­dard com­mented: “Eskom at that time asked its main cus­tomers, in­clud­ing Mozal, to cut their elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion by 10%.” Mozal is an alu­minium smelter near Ma­puto con­trolled by the multi­na­tional BHP Bil­li­ton group. Mozal plays a key role in Mozam­bique’s to­tal in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion.

The IMF re­port makes no men­tion of any cur­rent prob­lems at Mozal.

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