Mozambique’s port of Maputo continues to grow rapidly. More northerly projects are designed to handle domestic exports but Maputo has managed to regain its historic role as an important thoroughfare for South African trade.
Mozambique’s most important container port received US$800 million in investment between 2003 and 2016, while the state-owned transport utility, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), is investing US$200 million in new port and rail projects over the period 2018-20, its biggest capital commitment to date. The record level of investment has been enabled by rising profits, which mean that the company now values its assets at more than US$1 billion for the first time.
The port of Maputo is operated by Maputo Port Development Company. MPDC’s concession has been extended to 2033 with an option for another ten years, in order to give the investors more confidence that they will be able to recoup additional investment. DP World, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, is one of the biggest container port operators in the world, while Grindrod is a South African logistics firm with interests across Southern Africa.
The port improvements have already begun to feed through into higher cargo volumes. Maputo set an annual cargo handling record in 2018, four years after its last record. It handled 19.5 million tonnes in combined import and export cargo last year, up 7.14% on the figure for 2017, so MPDC is well on the way to meeting its target of handling 30 million tonnes/year by 2033.
South African interests
A number of other South African firms are switching – or plan to switch – business from the port of Durban to Maputo. BMW South Africa exports most of the 3 Series cars it produces at its Rosslyn plant in South Africa and has transferred a lot of its business from Durban to Maputo since 2013.
At the same time, the outgoing chief executive of fruit producer Capespan, Dawie Ferreira, said in March that his firm was in talks with Maputo over shipping more of its production out of the Mozambican port. Capespan has already signed an agreement with various Chinese trade bodies to promote reefer exports of South African produce to China. Reefer is the industry term for refrigerated cargo.