On the move in Mozambique

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Mozambique is becoming more and more popular as a business destination as the economy and various industries continue to grow at a rapid rate. Chana Viljoen provides the information you need to know when travelling to the country.

In 2008, 20% of arrivals in Mozambique were business travellers, and this number has been on the up since then. Mozambique’s principle industries include hydroelectricity, aluminium smelting, prawns, tourism, agriculture, forestry and coal. The country is considered by some to be an entry hub to the rest of Africa. There are significant trade links with other Lusophone countries, notably Portugal, Angola and Brazil. The areas of Mozambique which are most popular amongst business travellers are Maputo (the capital), Tete “the gold-rush city”, Chimoio and Beira.

Getting there

Notorious for not having sufficient flights in and out of the country, there are a number of reliable carriers serving Mozambique. SAA and LAM operate daily flights from Johannesburg to Maputo, and LAM then connects to all the other major cities throughout Mozambique. Pelican Air flies to Vilanculous, while Airlink flies from Durban to Maputo and daily from Johannesburg to Pemba. SA Express flies between Cape Town and Maputo. Kenya Airways offers flights between Nairobi and Maputo and LAM to and from Luanda. TAP and LAM operate long haul flights direct to Lisbon where they connect with TAP European services.

Getting around

Natalie Tenzer-Silva of Dana Tours advises against using public transport. “The local taxis are called Chapas and they are overcrowded and don’t have air-conditioning. There are some buses, but again I don’t think suitable for the business traveller.” Tenzer-Silva says business travellers can hire a private taxi or make use of the Tuc Tucs in town. They can also use Mozbus, which provides business people with a vehicle and driver to get around. Travellers can also rent a car, as most of the bigger car hire companies have offices at the airport. These include Europcar, Premium, AVIS, First/SIXT and Hertz. The major four- and five-star hotels also offer airport transfers.

The city of Maputo is an easy grid system, but the condition of the roads makes getting lost hazardous to a driver’s suspension and undercarriage. The roads are all named after communist revolutionary heroes including Mao Tse Tung, Edouardo Mondlane, Kenneth Kaunda, Kwame Nkrumah, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. It is a relatively small city, and easy to get around by taxi. Dana Tours gives travellers Z-card foldout maps which are easy to follow. Although it is not very big, travellers generally prefer to be taken around by a driver, says Tenzer-Silva. She adds that another concern when driving is that motorists don’t always stop at red traffic lights, and the traffic lights themselves are not always that visible.

Where to stay:

There are a number of hotels in Maputo that are suitable for business travellers. Some of the top hotels are:

*Polana Serena: This hotel is considered to be the flagship of Maputo and is currently undergoing major renovations. It is currently semi-open, but is expected to open completely in August. It is a five-star hotel.

*Southern Sun Maputo: This four-star hotel in located on the beach and boasts a horizon pool and romantic palm garden. It serves as a nexus for a large portion of business people and the bar area is used by most business people as an informal meeting point. It has a central location and features an excellent business centre.

*The Cardoso: This hotel is also popular amongst business people and is a popular conference venue. It is slightly cheaper and is a four-star hotel. The Cardoso has one of the best sunset views from the bar.

*The Avenida: This five-star hotel has a very European feel and is located on the Main High Street within walking distance of some of the top restaurants and bars in the city. It also offers full business services and conferencing facilities.

Business travellers staying for longer periods of time often prefer a suite hotel like the Girassol Indy Village or the five-star Afrin. Hotels that are most suited to the budget conscious traveller include Girassol, Terminus, Tivoli and Monte Carlo. These are all centrally located.

Where to eat:

Mozambique is known for its variety of sophistication in terms of cuisine. The restaurants at the Southern Sun Maputo and Cardoso are popular deal-signing venues, as is the Meat Co at Polana Casino. Boutique bistros offering specialist Mozambican culinary delights include Zambi,                      E Scorporiao, DM, Cristal, Peri-Peri and Costa do Sol. The sea-side, seafood beach front cabanas such as Maputo Waterfront, Miramar and Club Navale are popular informal seafood specialists.

Health:

Hotels usually supply bottled water for free, as tap water is not recommended for drinking. All of Mozambique is malarial and so prophylactics are recommended, as advised by a doctor. Although yellow fever vaccination is not mandatory, doctors may advise having this as well as tetanus boosters.

Business etiquette:

Mozambicans are considered to be extremely courteous and quite formal in a business setting. Business travellers should always ensure they introduce themselves to everyone at a meeting with a handshake and exchange business cards. A nod and a “howzit” to a room full of people would be regarded as extremely ill-mannered. Dress code is more formal than it is in Johannesburg or Cape Town. Well-tailored, dark lightweight suits with silk ties are uniform. Clerical level staff wear slacks, formal shirts and ties, but more senior people seldom remove their suit jackets. The business community is relatively small and close knit, so you should take care what you say to whom and where. The man fixing your drink could in all probability be the nephew of the client you are trying to impress.

Language:

Portuguese is the common language in Mozambique, while a similar dialect of Shangaan to that spoken in South Africa will get you by in the Southern Provinces. English is widely spoken in the major cities and is an acceptable language for most business meetings and correspondence.

Cellphones and Internet

There are two cellular network operators in Mozambique, Mcel and Vodacom. Both are considerably cheaper to use than South African networks, so it is advisable to get a SIM card from one or the other. SIM cards and airtime are easily available from street vendors, usually wearing brightly coloured bibs on the main street corners and near hotels and restaurants. Both networks offer 3G services, but many people prefer to use the wireless Internet at the hotels, as it is often more reliable and in some cases, free.

 

 

 

 

 

Safety:

People are generally friendly and helpful in Mozambique. There are incidents of petty crime, but there have been many occasions when people have left their cellphone/camera/handbag in the bar/restaurant/taxi and the next day it is there waiting for them.

Walking around downtown is safe and only police and the army have firearms, so carjacking, cash-in-transit bank heists and violent crime are rare.

 

Take note:

The biggest gripe from most travellers to Maputo concerns ‘run-ins’ with traffic officers. Mozambique is a law abiding country and travellers will be reprimanded for drunk driving, doing U-turns at robots, skipping red lights, parking illegally, etc. Travellers must always carry their passport (or a certified copy thereof) with them at all times.

Don’t use street money changers, there are many ATMs throughout the country that will give fair exchange rates and low fees. On some ATMs, the keypads are a different format to those in South Africa, so be careful when putting in your pin.

 

Visas:

South African passport holders do not require a visa to travel to Mozambique. UK and other Commonwealth passport holders will be given a one month visa at the border costing R150. Multiple entry visas are available from the Mozambique High Commission offices in Pretoria and Cape Town and they cost R600.

 

<box> In your spare time:

Mozambique is a beautiful country, so if business travellers have some leisure time during a visit to Mozambique, they should try to put the following on their itinerary:

*Eiffel Train Station

*Drive along the Marginal

*Sunset at the Cardoso Hotel

*Museum of Natural History

*Fish Market

*Train tour