(2012-05-10) Mozambican President Armando Guebuza warned on Monday that the social and economic problems faced by Mozambicans will not be solved simply through the exploitation of mineral resources, but through integrating the mining sector with other areas of the economy.
Guebuza was speaking in London at a meeting with the Mozambican community resident in Britain.
He recognised that Mozambique could have a brilliant future thanks to the mineral resources it possesses, and others that may be discovered in the future. However, this will only come about gradually.
“The minerals we have discovered will not give their best results immediately”, he said. “It will take time for us to recover the investments made, It will take time but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have gains. We shall gain from the jobs created and the taxes paid. Gradually there will be benefits, although not at the level that would be desirable”.
“This situation is creating impatience”, Guebuza admitted. “But we must keep a cool and clear head, because the benefits will come”.
Over the last decade, the President added, Mozambique had maintained an average annual growth rate of between seven and 7.5 per cent.
“We used to have a per capita income of 80 US dollars and today it’s more than 400 dollars”, he said. “It has been rapid and sustainable growth, which has kept on throughout recent years, and even with the global financial crisis growth has not faltered”.
Guebuza explained that this growth was not due simply to coal and natural gas. “We are growing sustainably without gas, and even without coal”, he said. “I would like to remind Mozambicans that we should not think that the use of these resources will solve all our problems”.
“What must happen is that the resources are used to speed up development, and thus bring us to accelerate the fight against poverty”, he added.
Guebuza recognised that recent economic growth is not yet reflected in an improved quality of life for Mozambicans. “Often the question is asked – if there is growth, why is it not reflected in people’s pockets?”, he said. “This is a problem of distribution. The government is distributing wealth through the provision of good quality services, by increasing access to clean water, building schools and improving their quality, and bringing electricity and telephone services to the population”.
He pointed out that, over the last ten years, these services have become more accessible to citizens. In the recent past, there were parts of the country where people had to walk for 200 kilometres to reach the nearest health post. That maximum distance has now been cut to 40 kilometres.
“This is important and has a great impact on people’s lives”, said Guebuza. “These results are most visible for people who live in the countryside”.
Guebuza also noted that access to higher education used to be limited because there were only two universities in the country, both in Maputo. But now it is possible to attend university courses in all 11 provinces.
About 250 of the 600 Mozambicans living in Britain attended the meeting.