IFA chairperson and chief executive Neil de Beer. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - Mozambique, the country located in south-east Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean, has an estimated population of 29million of which close to 50percent are below 15 years of age.

The huge base of the age pyramid can be attributed to the high fertility rate of 5.08 (the 11th highest in the world), which implies that the average woman in Mozambique will have five children.

The country is named after an Arab sheikh - Mussa bin biki - who ruled over the northern part of the country when the Portuguese arrived in the area hundreds of years ago.

Education is an issue. The Ministry of Education reports that less than half the population finishes primary school, and of those who do finish only 8percent transition to secondary school. Primary education is mandatory while secondary education is not.

Mozambique's overall literacy rate is 47percent, with female literacy (at 28percent) lagging far behind that of males at 60percent, according to the report from US Agency for International Development.

Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country's economy is based largely on agriculture.

But the food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum sectors are all on a growth path. Mozambique has over the past few months faced the devastating cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, which took lives, destroyed crops and the much-needed infrastructure.

The country has suffered economic losses of up to $700 million (R10.31bn) from these disasters and the World Bank estimates that it will take $2billion to rebuild Mozambique as well as Malawi and Zimbabwe, which were also affected.

Mozambique has recently been topping the news with the discovery of gas and oil deposits in the northern region of the country, which is expected to generate close to $95bn in 25 years.

The projects are expected to transform this under-performing economy to one that booms.

However, social impacts have seen fishermen from Milamba relocate 15km away from the sea.

Subsistence farmers are worried about their lands and what will happen when the big migration comes ploughing the oil and gas fields.

In May 2018, hundreds of young people demonstrated in Palma, demanding jobs in the fossil fuels companies because the positions in these companies are filled by immigrants. Criminal activities and insurgence by rebels are high in this area due to a lack of infrastructure.

On the Neil Economic scale, the current price of a litre of petrol is 64.44 metical (R15.19) and a 300ml coke is priced at 45 metical (R10.68).

The country needs to ensure that it invests in the education of its young population to secure empowerment and participation in growth and development of the country.

Mozambique, like many other African countries, has been privileged to have diverse natural resources.

Should the population partner with the government and investors, a conducive environment can be created to ensure improvement in the country's overall quality of life.

Its potential new line of oil and gas, agricultural wealth and vast coastlines for tourism make it a country that must shine in the world. This country's future is “cooking on gas”.

* The winner of a pen this week, from the article on Mauritius, is Patrick Homan. Please send your interesting fact on today's article to [email protected] and stand a chance to win the prize of an engraved Parker pen.

Neil de Beer is president of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. www.ifa.africa or [email protected]