Jan. 15, 2016


Pedro Moura

Mozambique

Pedro Moura

CEO & Member of the Board, Portucel Moçambique

"We are happy to invest in such long-term projects because we believe in the country."

BIO

Pedro Moura was born in Braga, Portugal. He graduated in Forestry Engineering. He also holds an MBA from Universidade Católica de Lisboa. He joined Portucel in 1997 in Portugal and began working on the Mozambican project in 2007. Previously he held several positions at a number of companies within the same industry.

On September 8 2015, President Nyusi inaugurated the continent's largest plant nursery. How significant is this project for Mozambique and for the group's overall activity?

This infrastructure represents a fundamental step in the evolution and implementation of this project. We have a planting program that is aggressive and is presently being ramped up. For this reason, we need the right infrastructure to produce the number of plants we need and at the quality that we expect. Ultimately this facility will be able to produce between 12 and 14 million plants a year. This production will be complemented with satellite nurseries that will be much smaller in terms of production. This will allow us to manage the risks of concentrating too much on one area. Diseases and pests can adversely affect production. It also allows for a more even spread of employment, which will work out better for the locals. We are working across a large area, and we want to distribute this wealth as widely as possible.

How will Portucel's nursery contribute to the local economy?

The impact will be enormous. In macroeconomic terms, exports will increase significantly. According to current prices, production will contribute $1 billion to annual exports. Compared to the current total exports, that increase would stand at between 25-30%. Internal added value will be huge, which means a stronger contribution to the quality of life of local families in areas where the project is based. The resulting inflow of foreign currency is also of major importance, contributing to exchange rate stability, which will make a fundamental contribution to the control over inflation. This is the kind of matter that we look at carefully when investing somewhere. There are direct consequences for families, mainly through employment. At the cruise speed of the project, we may reach 7,000 permanent direct jobs. These are the main indicators of the tremendous impact this project will have, locally and nationally. Our mosaic approach to landscape management involves a combination of various economic, social, and environmental components. As a result, we have been able to manage a large area we got from the government without any physical or economic displacement, which are two problems we tried to avoid. Our first priority is to guarantee that livelihoods will be preserved, and the second thing is to improve them. That is why we have designed a social development plan that will invest around $40 million over the course of the next seven years to work toward preserving people's livelihoods and improve food security. In some places more than 40% of crops are lost due to bad storage conditions. Also, the One Community, One Forest program will provide opportunities not only to preserve some natural areas where products and services and essential for livelihoods, but also to plant eucalyptus that they can be used for firewood, construction materials, or for pulp processing. We also help to develop SMEs for the provision of services to the forestry segment, as well as a growing scheme to produce wood for mills. We encourage agri-business value chains to sustain production increases for farmers and their communities. The third pillar is about quality of life, where education and health are the main concerns, and also some infrastructure. For instance, improving the quality of schools and providing housing for teachers, sanitation, water supply, and other crucial facilities. Due to programs in these three different areas, we are convinced that economic displacement will be totally avoided and we believe there will be an improvement in the quality of lives. A fourth area where we are working is empowering communities to manage activities and assets that will be implemented through the social development plan. This is something that is new to Mozambique.

What partnerships is Portucel considering to strengthen its operations?

We already have a partnership with the IFC World Bank group, and they control a 20% share of the company's capital. We are looking for another potential partner, and in the future are thinking about working with Mozambican partners, either national companies or private families. Sooner or later the idea is to enter the stock market and offer Mozambicans the opportunity to own the company.

What is your medium-term outlook for the Mozambican economy?

Any economy should be diversified as much as possible. This is the correct strategy, and we fully agree with the approach that the president is taking. We are happy to invest in such long-term projects because we believe in the country. We realize that there may be crises in which necessitate taking a step back before we can move forward. Difficult situations will arise, but long-term prospects are positive. We are convinced that the country will continue evolving and moving forward.

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