LOURENÇO SAMBO

Mozambique 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

APIEX is formulating different strategies to target and attract new investors into the country, support existing ones, and help achieve reforms to improve the business environment in the country.

Lourenço Sambo
BIOGRAPHY

Lourenço Sambo has an educational background in economics and agricultural business management and has been the Director General of APIEX since 2010. He was previously the economic adviser to the Minister of Planning and Development. He also taught mathematics at Maxaquene Secondary School, politics, economics, mathematics, and statistics at the Maputo Commercial School from 1979 to 1984 and public finance at the School of the National Planning Commission. In 1996, he was the financial manager of the Maputo Corridor, a World Bank-funded project for the restructuring of CFM-Mozambique Ports and Railway Company.

What impact do you expect COVID-19 to have on the process of economic recovery in 2020?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative health and economic impacts on the Mozambican economy. Mozambique was on the path of economic recovery from the devastating effects of different events, including cyclones Idai and Kenneth in 2019. COVID-19 has further hindered the country's short-term growth prospects for 2020 and is expected to have a negative impact on economic activity, due to travel restrictions that affect demand for exports of national products. Additionally, the reduced demand and decline in commodity prices negatively affect investments in the extractive industry sector, including gas and coal, which are two of the country's major industries.

Are you optimistic about the future of FDI after COVID-19?
We remain optimistic about the future. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic and preserve macroeconomic stability, the government has devised several strategies to improve the business environment through the support of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, prioritizing the adoption of ICT and facilitating business in productive sectors in Mozambique; it has also increased spending in the health sector and improved social protection to the most vulnerable. Various measures have been put in place to promote production of essential goods, facilitate the import of raw materials, and simplify procedures through the authorization of advance clearance and exemption from payment of VAT from basic products. Identified strategies aim to boost production and competitiveness at the national level, leveraging the use of internal national resources that can boost value chains and encourage modernization and diversification of the economy. Specific credit lines have been created to support national companies in priority sectors of activity—agriculture and agro-industry, trade, and manufacturing—with the goal mainly to preserve productive capacity and promote job retention.

What sectors of Mozambique's economy are most in need of FDI?
Currently, the sectors with great growth potential and good investment opportunities that continue to grow and are proving essential to guaranteeing the production, conservation, and supply of products necessary in the country include industries essential to health services such as chemical, pharmaceutical, and cleaning products; food industry such as agriculture and agro-industry; financial services including fintech; and logistics. We also continue to encourage investments in priority sectors previously identified in the country, namely agriculture and agro-industry, tourism, oil and gas, infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing.

CPI recently rebranded as APIEX. What is the rationale behind the transition, and what are the new added competences of APIEX?
The Mozambican government created APIEX from the merger of three institutions promoting trade and exports, namely the Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), the Office for Economic Accelerated Development Zones (GAZEDA), and the Export Promotion Institute (IPEX), which were subsequently dissolved. The creation of the new entity is mainly intended to boost the business environment, optimize resources, and create greater synergies in the areas that impact the country's economy.

In what ways does APIEX seek to boost FDI and exports in Mozambique?
APIEX has been devising different strategies to target and attract new investors into the country, support existing ones, and work with other stakeholders (public and private sectors, donors, and so on) to achieve reforms to improve the business environment in the country. As such, we are developing a 10-year Investment and Export Promotion Strategic Plan (PEPIE). We have also been working with different development partners including JICA and the International Trade Centre's (ITC) Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa (PIGA) to streamline the processes and develop different tools to support investors, such as sector-specific investment promotion strategies to attract FDI into the country. As such, through the PIGA project, a new investment and trade promotion portal was developed to attract more FDI and boost exports from Mozambique, providing all the required information to potential foreign investors and foster exports from Mozambique, and providing international buyers with an export directory and supporting Mozambican SMEs to export.