ON THE LUSOPHONE

Mozambique 2014 | DIPLOMACY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ambassador Murade Isaac Murargy, Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), on Mozambique's relationship with other members of the CPLP.

How would you characterize Mozambique's role within the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP)?

The performance of the pro tempore presidency of the CPLP during Mozambique's tenure reveals the importance of the potential contributions of the CPLP to face future challenges on a global scale, in step with social and economic development. In the context of the theme of the Mozambican presidency, “Food and Nutrition Security," Mozambique oversaw the constitution of a Council of Food and Nutrition Security of the CPLP. We follow a strategic plan to ensure alignment on the issue of food sovereignty, and a memorandum with the FAO, to be embodied in the “Together Against Hunger" program, which raises awareness and funds for projects to combat hunger and malnutrition in our countries. Our vision is of a community of countries with a healthy and active human capital, free from hunger and poverty in a context of progressive realization of the human right to adequate food and respect for national sovereignty.

How has the recent surge of investment in Mozambique's mineral resources sector affected its economic relationship with the countries of the CPLP?

I believe that this can only strengthen Mozambique, the CPLP, and its member states. There are about 250 million Portuguese speakers— by 2050 this is expected to have reached 323 million—on four continents, and countries of high economic potential. In terms of economic potential, Brazil is in the BRICS group; Angola and Mozambique, which may become the sixth largest gas producer after the US, Canada, Russia, Iran, and Qatar, with growth rates of around 8%; and East Timor, which also has prospects of high double-digit growth rates, thanks to oil and natural gas. In this area, Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique represent over 50% of oil discoveries made over the past eight years. The economies of CPLP countries, accompanied by Mozambique, enjoy considerable growth potential. I believe that these optimistic prospects should encourage policymakers to address the challenges and opportunities of growth and development toward an economic transformation of member countries supported by growth across a diversity of sectors—extractive, agriculture, and industry. The economic rise of countries should also create better employment opportunities that support growth more inclusively.

“CPLP member states are active on four continents and in diverse areas of regional cooperation."

What role has the CPLP played in promoting development cooperation in Africa?

CPLP member states are active on four continents and in diverse areas of regional cooperation; this factor contributes to the richness of our cultural diversity, the expansion of the common language, and multifaceted and intensive cooperation. Moreover, in regard to the integration policies of CPLP member states, this dispersion is a colossal challenge, but an enormous source of opportunities for the future. I underline the importance of knowledge in the matter of progress. Increasingly, a country's progress is connected to knowledge. Education and training occupy a privileged place in cooperation between Portuguese-speaking countries. It is worth noting the strong cooperation between institutes of higher education that has developed among CPLP states. The development of higher education in the PALOPs and East Timor has been remarkable, with a significant increase in official and private institutions. This idea reinforces the importance of movement and mobility agreements. I have also paid special attention to relations between CPLP and civil society organizations. Since the beginning of my mandate, I have placed a priority on the approximation of the Executive Secretariat to civil society and its organizations, for a reason that seems obvious: CPLP is a community-building project that should primarily be a space of citizenship, inclusion, and dialogue. Only then will we have the means of supporting development.

What makes Mozambique an attractive investment destination for investors from other CPLP countries?

Mozambique shares with CPLP countries its historic past and common objectives that are underpinned by the Portuguese language. It shares the same regional area of economic integration with Angola, the SADC, and is highly committed to the constant sharing of knowledge among our communities. Mozambique has revealed markedly high, sustainable economic growth, reflecting a skilled national workforce that is capable and applied.

What are the main goals and priorities during your tenure as Executive Secretary of the CPLP?

In 2013, within the scope of my mandate, I have already made official visits to the member states of Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde, and East Timor, before the Council of Ministers in July 2013. I have still not visited Guinea-Bissau given the political situation in the country, although CPLP international missions have been there. We must not forget that ours is a community composed of countries the development of which is quite varied, and ultimately we will be judged on our ability to walk at the same pace. However, I am very optimistic. I hope to receive approval for the next CPLP Summit, in July 2014, of a document that will serve as a roadmap for organizational and policy changes. These changes will make the CPLP a common project, and will include a mobilizing strategy with a definition of stable goals as a guide to the organization in the pursuit of excellence for our populations.

© The Business Year - April 2014