Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageMozambique has improved access to education, but it has to do more to meet the high expectations of its young and rapidly growing population.Reuters/Grant Lee Neuenbur

In the more than two decades since democratic elections signalled a new era in Mozambique, a great deal has been accomplished. Nearly all development indicators have improved – often substantially – relative to the miserable levels posted in the 1980s and 1990s.

Headline economic growth has been among the most rapid in the world. Enormous efforts have been made in improving access to education with complete primary education now in sight.

Infant mortality rates have declined dramatically from about 177 deaths per 1000 live births in 1975 to about 62 deaths per 1000 live births in 2013.

But Mozambique’s struggle to improve living standards, particularly raising desperately low levels of consumption for more than half of the population, has suffered in the 2000s. The fuel and food price crisis of 2008 hit hard and weather shocks magnified the impact.

New economic team has work cut out

With a new government designing its development program, now is a good time to reflect on what Mozambique can do to achieve rapid economic and social progress.

The good news is that President Filipe Nyusi, who formally replaced Armando Guebuza in January 2015, has selected an excellent economic team.

The triumvirate of Adriano Maleiane at the Ministry of Economics and Finance, Ernesto Gove at the Central Bank and Pedro Couto in the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is perhaps one of the most promising on the continent. Jose Pacheco is an experienced head of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The bad news is that the team faces enormous challenges. Among these are:

  • Renewed political instability with the potential for violent confrontation with the principal opposition party, RENAMO;

  • A persistent majority of the rural population mired in very low productivity subsistence agriculture;

  • The “easy to say but hard to do” task of converting raw natural resources below the ground, such as coal and gas, into productive physical and human capital above the ground; and

  • Job creation for a young and rapidly growing population with high expectations.

The government confronts these and other thorny challenges with a weak administrative apparatus and open splits within FRELIMO, the dominant political party.

Even under favourable assumptions it will take time for the Nyusi government to gain traction and address the weaknesses in development policies that have become evident over the past five years.

While development is a multifaceted process that requires simultaneous efforts across many dimensions, two core priorities merit highlighting. Re-establishing peace and stability is the first. The second involves devoting attention and resources to getting smallholder agriculture moving.

Neither is easy. Addressing the peace and stability challenge has clearly been high on Nyusi’s agenda since he was sworn into office. The sooner the country can move from establishing viable frameworks for peace and stability to implementing them the better.

imageAgriculture holds much promise for Mozambique’s growth and development. Filipe Nyusi’s administration has yet to announce its intentions for the sector.Reuters/Grant Lee Neuenburg

Agriculture is the key

The new government has not yet set out its policies for the agricultural sector in general, or for smallholders in particular. It has endlessly spewed out policy documents and strategy papers, all to very little effect. What we don’t know is what the new Nyusi government is going to do.

Planning and technical functions have been operating largely on autopilot in agriculture as almost everywhere else. Energies have been directed to resolving the confrontation with RENAMO and to the apparently successful – but certainly not smooth – power transition within FRELIMO.

It is well-known that agriculture plays a key role in development in Mozambique. About 70% of the population is rural. Nearly all rural inhabitants are overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Even urban households depend heavily on agriculture to earn a living. Productivity is low and stagnant.

Some success stories are percolating out of rural areas for crops such as sesame and poultry value chains. But the broad picture over two decades is one of distressingly little progress, particularly among smallholders. This is despite substantial agricultural potential.

A renewed focus on agriculture, alongside a reshuffling of priorities towards smallholders, is required. For example, research and extension was recently found to be one of the highest returning investments in the agricultural sector.

At the same time, spending on research and extension, while performing well relative to other agricultural expenditures, perform poorly relative to other African countries.

There is therefore good reason to ask the research and extension system to do more and to do better, and there is no inherent reason to believe that the Mozambican system could not achieve both. But these kinds of highly desirable outcomes are not going to happen on their own. Sustained and informed attention at all levels is needed.

Getting smallholder agriculture moving successfully is closely linked to the remaining three big challenges listed above.

Investments in rural infrastructure are sensible and equitable ways to distribute revenues from natural resources. Greater dynamism in agriculture will brighten the employment picture considerably. This is important given that about 80% of Mozambicans are principally employed in agriculture.

Over the long term, broad based-growth in rural areas also has the potential to help ease some of the political tensions currently occupying the attention of the new Mozambican leadership.

Channing Arndt does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/what-mozambique-can-do-to-achieve-rapid-economic-and-social-progress-43478

Writers Wanted

Solitaire Card Game Rules Every Gamer Should Know

arrow_forward

Asian countries do aged care differently. Here's what we can learn from them

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Top 5 US Logistics Companies

Nothing is more annoying than having to deal with unreliable shipping companies for your fragile and important packages. Other than providing the best customer service, a logistics company also ne...

News Co - avatar News Co

Luke Lazarus Helps Turns Startups into Global Stalwarts

There are many positive aspects to globalization. It is no secret that those who have been impacted by globalization tend to enjoy a higher standard of living in general. One factor that has led to ...

Emma Davidson - avatar Emma Davidson

Digital-based strategies that grow and expand your business

Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly relying on new technology solutions to strengthen their product development, marketing, and customer engagement activities. Technology adoption...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion