JOIN THE PARTY

Mozambique 2014 | DIPLOMACY | VIP INTERVIEW

Jan Björklund, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, on relations between his country and Mozambique, and opportunities for investment.

Sweden has a long-standing relationship with Mozambique. In fact, it started in 1964 when the first President of The Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), Eduardo Mondlane, visited Sweden requesting support for the Mozambican Institute in Tanzania, the cradle of Mozambican independence. Consequently, in 2014 we celebrate 50 years of cooperation between Swedes and Mozambicans. Sweden has continued to nurture its presence in Mozambique since independence in 1975 in the areas of diplomacy, development cooperation, and trade.

In October 2013, I had the opportunity to visit Mozambique with a delegation from Sweden, to learn more about our common experience and to contribute to the vibrant continuation of our relations. I was very well received by Prime Minister Dr. Alberto Vaquina and had the opportunity to meet with politicians, business people, academics, and members of civil society, among others. Meeting with Mozambican institutions like the Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), the National Bank of Investment (BNI), and the Institute of Directors (IoD), as well as with representatives from Swedish businesses established in Mozambique, I recognized their enthusiasm for the exciting economic developments that are currently taking place here. I could both see and feel that Mozambique is on the move and undergoing dynamic development.

“Sweden has continued to nurture its presence in Mozambique since independence in 1975."

I observed Mozambique's transformation into a market economy and a multiparty democracy. And while the journey has been impressive, further improvement is still required. I think transparency is a key issue, as corruption is a major obstacle to economic development, not only in Mozambique, but in many other countries, distorting markets and competition. Being a politician myself, I hope and count on the 2014 elections consolidating multiparty democracy and providing ample space for all political parties.

Clearly then, Mozambique faces many challenges, with a young and growing population that needs education and professional training, as well as quality health services, in order to capture the opportunities of strong economic growth. Through development cooperation, Sweden will continue to work with the government of Mozambique to respond to these challenges. We will also encourage Swedish companies to consider business opportunities in Mozambique.

Swedish technology from Ericsson is used to develop telecommunications in Mozambique and ABB transformers are being used in both public and private energy projects around the country. Atlas Copco and Sandvik provide machinery and services for the mining industry, whereas Volvo Construction Equipment is used in the construction industry. There is definitely room for more Swedish companies to bring their business to Mozambique. If they respond to the challenges of building their investments on a long-term basis, providing technology and know-how, as well as training young Mozambicans for this new phase of development, I am convinced that they will enjoy success. Swedish-Mozambican trade and business links should be improved in the years to come and I feel very strongly about promoting these, as there are mutual benefits for our two countries.

Our development cooperation program is significant and covers a number of sectors, channeled mainly through the public sector, but also through the private sector and civil society. Sweden has a rather unique cooperation program with the University of Eduardo Mondlane, which has been ongoing since 1978, resulting in knowledge transfer and research in fields such as agriculture, veterinary science, engineering, and archeology. During the 16 years of war, Sweden was not only one of the major donors of humanitarian aid, but also continued to invest in areas such as education and energy. These are crucial sectors of development for Mozambique and we are pleased that Swedish science and technology, as well as industrial expertise, has been used to accelerate economic growth. We are proud to be longstanding partners with Mozambique, during both good times and bad.

© The Business Year - February 2014