Mozambique

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Background

After decades in the economic doldrums, Mozambique’s GDP has been growing at an average of 9%, thanks largely to strong demand for aluminium exports from the Mozal smelter, although volatile commodity prices remain a concern.

Agriculture has long been a mainstay of the economy – cotton, cashew nuts and sugar cane are important sectors – and with political and social stability over the past decade, the tourism industry has boomed.

Important Cities

Maputo is the country’s political and commercial hub, and although the capital’s infrastructure appears to be in a constant state of falling apart, a flush of building projects are breathing new life into this once-fashionable city. Beira, some 700 kilometres north of Maputo, is home to the country’s second-largest port and has long been a major trade route stretching back to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. Nampula is the third-largest city in Mozambique and the capital of Nampula province. It’s the business heart of northern Mozambique, and a major trade and transport hub for the region.

Climate

Mozambique’s climate is agreeably tropical for almost the entire length of its 2,400 kilometre coastline. The humidity can get tiresome during the January-April rainy season though, when the temperatures often climb above 30°C. The cooler dry season from June to November is the best time to visit. Note that the coastal areas of central Mozambique are vulnerable to cyclones between January and April.

Visas

Citizens of most southern African countries do not require a visa to visit Mozambique, and are granted a 30-day entry stamp on arrival. Most other passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival in Mozambique. Visit www.embamoc.co.za, if travelling from South Africa.

Connectivity

You’ll find plentiful Internet cafés in Maputo, and most large hotels in the capital will offer broadband access (often Wi-Fi). However, as you travel further north you’ll find it harder to stay online, with Internet cafés restricted to provincial towns and resort hotels. Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Maputo and larger towns, but in rural areas you may struggle to find a signal. Local operators mcel and Vodacom offer roaming coverage, as well as affordable pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

Travel Tips

Coastal areas – particularly in the south, up to Inhambane – get extremely busy during the peak summer holidays. Avoid travelling during this time if possible. While some Maputo taxis are metered, it’s best to negotiate a fare upfront.

Getting around

Apart from a few well-known ‘no-go’ areas, bustling Maputo is safe to explore on foot and is one of southern Africa’s most colourful capitals. Taxis are plentiful, but generally don’t cruise for business. So, ask your hotel to call one or keep an eye out for informal taxi ranks. In towns and cities further north, a car and driver is recommended for all but the shortest journeys in town. Local buses ply major inter-city routes, but journeys are long and uncomfortable. For business trips to cities outside Maputo it’s better to fly.

Health

Unless you’re travelling deep into rural areas, your only major health concern in Mozambique is malaria, which is prevalent throughout the country. Ask your health professional for advice at least three weeks before you travel.

Contacts

Mozambique High Commission: embamoc.co.za
Investment Promotion Centre: cpi.co.mz

Fact File

Population: 23 million
Time zone: GMT +2
Plugs: Two-prong round pins
Dialling code: +258 + area code + number required
Currency: Mozambican Metical. US$1=MNM26
GDP growth rate (2010 est.): 7%
Language: While English is spoken fairly widely in the south, Portuguese remains the country’s official language and in remote areas a translator may be required.

Richard Holmes

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