Moza’s economy growing fast

Mozambique and Rwanda have sustained between 8 and 10 percent growth in the last 10 years, while 15 other African countries have registered a 4 percent growth over the same period, the World Bank has said.

Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank, said although African countries’ economies were gradually improving, the continent’s leaders needed to do more to help their people.

“Things have changed dramatically for the better in Africa . . . (It) is a continent on the move,” Wolfowitz told African politicians, businessmen and international organisations at an economic conference in Abuja, Nigeria, recently.

He said Mozambique and Rwanda showed what good governance could achieve in Africa.

“These two countries have demonstrated what people can do to help themselves after civil wars,” he said.

Wolfowitz said African leaders were increasingly making tough reforms to improve their countries’ economies ‘ for instance by privatising state companies and tackling corruption.

But he also said that much work was still needed.

“That an average African lives on a dollar (United States) per day is a sad statistic. It is also terrible,” he said, pointing out that corruption, disease and hunger still present major challenges for the continent.

“Africans face terrible health hazards such as malaria and HIV/Aids. Millions of children ‘ 3 000 a day ‘ die every year of preventable diseases like malaria. This has to be eradicated here,” he said.

He urged African leaders to learn from South Korea, which he said had become one of the world’s most successful economies through free-trade, liberal laws and privatisation.

“South Korea is one of the success stories in the world. It is one of the 12th richest nations in the world,” he said. “Government policies make all the difference.”

In another development, the business community should play a leading role in the fight against absolute poverty in Mozambique and convince cooperation partners, the public administration and the government itself that it has a leading role to play in the challenge of eradicating poverty, Jacinto Veloso, chairperson of the General Assembly of the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA), has said. He was speaking at the first ordinary meeting of the full CTA since the election of its new executive in 2005, chaired by Salimo Abdula.

“We believe that the private sector is indeed the engine of development and the key to the fight against absolute poverty. We, the businesspeople, must be the first to accept this principle”, he said.

Veloso praised the CTA as a body where all members have an opportunity and space to hear and express ideas, opinions and comments in a constructive and open way to safeguard the common objectives of the private sector and society as a whole.

On the hand, Abdula reiterated that he and his colleagues in CTA executive were prepared to continue working tirelessly to improve the private sector’s performance.

Making a preliminary balance sheet of their activities since he took office as CTA chairperson, Abdula described them as encouraging, although acknowledging that there is still a great deal to be done.

He stressed the decentralisation of the CTA, with the creation of three autonomous branches of the organisation in the southern, central and northern regions of the country.

The CTA has set up and is now consolidating regional executives, with more authority and autonomy to negotiate with government bodies.

The objective of the meeting was to analyse the work done so far and the 2005 accounts, and also approve the budget and draft a plan of activities for the period 2006/07.

Established in April 1999, the CTA describes itself as a non-governmental and non-party organisation with the goal of contributing to the economic and social development of the country, based on the growth of the private sector by promoting and protecting business opportunities and the business culture.

Meanwhile, Mozambican employers are failing to pay membership fees to their own association – which, as a result, is entirely dependent on American funding.

Figures presented at the CTA meeting showed that between October 2004 and March 2005 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the CTA to the tune of US$1,15 million. This was 93,2 percent of CTA income.

The World Bank supported Enterprise Development Programme (PoDE) provided 2,4 percent, unspecified contributions to a survey of Mozambican companies came to another 2,4 percent, funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) came to 1,6 percent, while membership fees paid by Mozambican companies and their associations themselves came to a miserable 0,3 percent – or just US$4 130.

The SIDA funding has now terminated, and the CTA project funded by the Swedish aid is being audited. PoDE ended in June this year, and so the dependence on American aid is now greater than ever.

The report presented by the CTA executive said there had been “a significant increase” in the payment of membership fees immediately prior to the CTA Annual General Meeting of May 2005. But more recently the situation has been characterised by “irregular payment of fees”.

July 2006
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