By TBY | Mozambique | Jun 29, 2015
The village of Matchedje once hosted the 2nd Congress of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), the country's incumbent government. Today it is the namesake of Mozambique's first locally manufactured car.
According to the World Bank, industry employs 40% of the population, contributing 20.8% of Mozambique’s GDP. Recently, close Sino-Mozambican relations put the country behind the wheel of a new industrial vehicle—auto production.
Former President Armando Guebuza, at the inauguration ceremony of a Korean automotive player’s new plant revealed that 542,000 cars were registered in Mozambique, and that of the 45 existing brands, 95% were of Asian origin. In 2010 Shanghai-based China Tong signed an agreement for an estimated $200 million auto-plant investment in Mozambique under the name of Matchedje Motors. The resulting Matchedje brand plant rolled out its first vehicle in September 2014—a 2.8-liter four-wheel-drive pick-up with a price tag of $23,700. While the terms of the initial agreement foresaw the plant producing 10,000 vehicles per annum, the Chinese firm plans for the 30,000 units of the initial year to rise to 100,000 units in 2016, and to 500,000 by 2020. Mixed vehicle production capacity—to also include buses and electric motorcycles—is projected to have reached around 1 million within a decade. Based in Matola near Maputo, Matchedje employs around 80 people, but in its second phase this could reportedly rise to 500. And as the market pioneer, Matchedje has tasked itself with establishing a pan-African sales network and develop Mozambique’s automotive sector. Ambitious plans include developing a skilled local workforce capable of taking the local auto industry forward. The company website also states plans to build a 590 ha industrial park that will include machinery, chemicals, and equipment for the electronic automobile production chain. In this way the brand hopes to support the national industry and broader economy at the same time.
South Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai also brought its auto assembly plant in Matola online in 2014 in a partnership between South Korea and Mozambique dubbed Somyoung Motors. The $5.45 million private investment targets the annual assembly of 4,500 cars, rising from 1,200 units in 2015 and 2,500 in 2016.
With operations spanning Swaziland, Kenya, Namibia, and the Republic of the Congo, tire giant Goodyear in 2013 identified Mozambique as the key country in its Africa growth strategy. The firm’s African footprint is the most comprehensive among tire makers on the continent, and it has been present in Mozambique for over 25 years. Goodyear’s distribution channel and services partner Trentyre commenced operations in 2000 and the Beira branch opened in 2005 accounts for 50% of overall turnover. Goodyear has a reported market share of 15% to 18% in Mozambique, and operates from two branches in Maputo and Beira. A third is located in the duty-free zone close to Matola and serves Mozal, Mozambique’s giant aluminium smelter, along with related service providers. In 2014 Somyoung Motors was assembling the Hyundai i10 model, sold at a unit price of $12,000, and the Accent 1.6 model with setting Mozambican drivers $23,000.
With roughly 80% of the Mozambican workforce working the soil in one way or another, and agriculture contributing around 20% of GDP, the ultimate potential for high-end equipment sales is promising. Belarus has been exploring the possibility of promoting its tractor industry in Mozambique in a deal involving the assembly of parts manufactured in Minsk. Accordingly, a general cooperation agreement has been signed. Several tractors were duly sent to showcase the range in a permanent in-situ display.