How would you assess the impact of COVID-19 on the transportation sector?
Due to globalization and the growing interconnectedness of the global supply chain, the effects of a global crisis like COVID-19 on the global transportation sector are enormous, and Mozambique has been no exception, especially considering the initial shock of China's lockdown and the reduction in exports for Mozambique. The pandemic has affected air and road traffic the most. Our preliminary results reveal 84% losses in airlines revenues and a 25-50% reduction in road traffic. At the same time, we have seen a 6.3% increase in railway traffic, 5.9% in port traffic, and 50% for communications. COVID-19 has affected the development of major projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Machipanda railway line, the Xai-Xai airport, and the Port of Nacala. At present, we are doing everything in our power to minimize the impact of COVID-19 through the adoption of mitigation measures and multi-sectorial collaboration.
What are the main challenges and opportunities in the transport and logistics sector?
The prospect of mineral resources and gas extraction creates unprecedented momentum for the development of infrastructure, logistics, and transport, which will benefit the whole country. Driven by the necessity to link the Moatize coal mines to the ports, we are seeing the completion of the existing railway-port system in the center and north regions, with a focus on the corridors of Nacala, Beira, and Maputo. One of the goals of the government's five-year program is to enable our railway-port system to transport larger volumes of cargo. We want to increase the current volume of 48 million tons per year to 82 million by 2024 through a number of actions. In 1Q2020, we started working on the Ressano Garcia railway. In the center, we are working to increase the capacity of the Machipanda railway from 1.5 million tons per year to 3 million. At Porto of Beira, work is ongoing on the new coal and mining terminal with 20 million tons annual capacity and a multi-use dock to reduce congestion at the cargo terminal. In the north, we are seeing the implementation of phases I and II of the rehabilitation and modernization project of Nacala port to increase handling capacity from 100 million TEUs to 252 million. Finally, Pemba is seeing the construction of a bulk cargo terminal to serve the oil and gas industry. There are also plans for the expansion of Pemba's commercial port and the construction of a transit cargo terminal for the mines in Cabo Delgado. The implementation of all these projects is generating opportunities and capital for the development of logistical solutions across the country.
From a regulatory perspective, what improvements are needed by the sector?
In the transport and communications sector, private-sector intervention has played a fundamental role in building large infrastructure. Being aware of the need to improve our competitiveness and further simplify our procedures, we are currently working on a port law as an instrument to regulate the sector. Mozambique enjoys a great strategic location. Our responsibility is to leverage this comparative advantage and put in place all the right enabling conditions—from regulation to infrastructure—to make Mozambique a logistics hub in the SADC region. This regional perspective is one of the main focuses of the government's recently approved Transport Integrated Development Strategy.
What progress has Mozambique seen in the aviation space?
Our vision for the future is to conceive of airports not only as stations for airplanes, but as hubs with an impact on urban growth and economic development. Our priority for the next five years is to make flying more accessible, develop infrastructure, and promote integrations. We want to encourage the entry of new operators in the country and expand the network of accessible destinations. We also want to increase the number of cities covered by LAM.