The port of Maputo is fast becoming a popular choice with major industries
The port of Maputo is fast becoming a popular choice with major industries

Transnet to work with Maputo port operator

Time of article published Jun 4, 2013

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Londiwe Buthelezi

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday that could pave the way for South African companies to use the port of Maputo as an extension of Transnet’s network.

The memorandum opens up collaboration between the two port authorities in infrastructure development, engineering, training and marine services, and specifically allows the sharing of expertise.

But Osorio Lucas, the chief executive of the MPDC, said the aim was to co-operate more in future.

“South African businesses should use Maputo port as an extension of [the] Transnet network, and Mozambique businesses should also use South African ports without any constraint. That’s what we are working towards,” he said.

This was a step towards fostering greater intra-regional co-operation and the aim was to take this understanding beyond the two countries, he said.

Areas of collaboration between the TNPA and the MPDC include maritime services, the transition from road to rail, and the training of operational and engineering staff.

The MPDC is a public-private partnership between the Mozambican Railway Company, Grindrod and DP World. While the MPDC is a private company and is the operator of Maputo’s port, it holds similar powers to a port authority such as TNPA.

Maputo is an important export route for chrome ore and ferrochrome, coal, sugar, copra and hardwood. This, coupled with Mozambique’s economic rise and discoveries of significant coal and gas deposits, makes the collaboration a strategic move for Transnet.

In the past two years the port of Maputo has doubled the amount of cargo handled to 15 million tons. The port is expected to grow cargo handling to 17 million tons this year and to reach 40 million tons by 2020.

“Most development is taking place in Maputo right now. In maritime services, all the work [going on] Transnet has undertaken in South Africa. It makes sense for us to partner with them because they have the largest port infrastructure in Africa,” Lucas said.

South African businesses would have a lot to look forward to if the plan to make the Maputo port an extension of Transnet’s port network progresses as planned.

Mozambique has one of the largest coal reserves and is capable of becoming the world’s biggest coal exporter within the next decade.

With reserves estimated at 23 billion tons, it is said that Mozambique would have enough coal to meet global demand for three years.

Last year Mozambique emerged as a new giant in natural gas when operators in the country announced discoveries of as much as 100 trillion cubic feet of the fuel. This figure has since been revised upward as more discoveries have been made this year.

In 2011 Mozambique’s currency, the metical, was the best-performing currency against the dollar.

With the construction boom under way in the country, the South African civil engineering industry could capitalise on increased collaboration between the two port authorities.

TNPA chief executive Tau Morwe said the memorandum of understanding would foster a working relationship between the TNPA and the MPDC.

Lucas said that the port authorities could learn from each other on issues such as the formation of public-private partnerships and pricing.

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