3rd June 2013

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Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative

 

Issued by:

Barbara Mommen

Chief Executive Officer

Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative

Barbara Mommen, chief executive officer of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative, talks about developments on this strategic transit route.

The Maputo Development Corridor (MDC) was launched as a Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) in 1996 as the governments of South Africa and Mozambique sought to rebuild their economies and restore trade and investment ties. Both governments agreed on the enormous potential benefits of rehabilitating the key elements of this vital strategic transport corridor which links the Port of Maputo with Africa’s most vibrant economic hub, the city of Johannesburg. SDI was the chosen means to maximise investment in the potential of the Corridor and fulfil the inherent promise of sustainable economic and social development along its length and hinterland.

The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) is a non-profit membership organisation which exists to translate this vision into reality. MCLI brings together infrastructure investors, service providers and stakeholders from Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland who have a common interest in the promotion and further development of the MDC as the region's primary logistics transportation route.

“Our focus is to support the Initiative from a broad framework perspective by providing a platform for inward investment in the Corridor,” explains Barbara Mommen, CEO of MCLI. “We know that the future of the Corridor lies in achieving transit cargo efficiencies and in growing general levels. Our contribution is to co-ordinate a stakeholder partnership that can remove barriers along the Corridor, keep everyone involved and up-to-date with all relevant developments and to market the Corridor’s strategic benefits and opportunities, so making the MDC the first choice for both the region’s importers and exporters.

She goes on to explain that MCLI is currently in a transformative phase and is moving to become a much more structured public-private partnership with a broader economic development focus; but one in which the transport corridor forms the foundation for all activities going forward. “This will enable us to increase the role and level of government involvement in the development of the Corridor, particularly with issues such as border controls,” she states.

“We want to raise the profile of the Corridor in the SADC region generally, but particularly with the government of Swaziland. Our priorities at present are to provide concrete information to stakeholders, map the supply chain more accurately and address transit cargo issues and markets from Maputo throughout the SADC region. At the moment, we face the challenge that transit movements along the Corridor tend to be one-directional from South Africa to Mozambique. We need to see much more growth in bi-directional cargo movements and general growth of the Corridor as a key route throughout the SADC region.”

Customs modernization efforts on the corridor from both the South African Revenue Service and Alfandegas are proving to be useful, but have not been simple in their implementation.  “One of our biggest challenges is getting the right information to as many stakeholders as possible as the systems require agents to register with the customs authorities and compliance in document processing and electronic declarations are key to getting cargo cleared efficiently.” She says.

The recent implementation of the Single Electronic Window in Mozambique is proving challenging, but Mommen refers to this as part of the necessary pain of a fundamental change process.  She sees these as “teething problems” but without diminishing the frustration experienced by users of the new process.  “There are some very real challenges with the implementation of the SeW, and we are finding a need for facilitating regular sessions between users and MCNet to clear up procedural and operational issues.  This is vital for the SeW to have the intended benefits of quicker processing times, efficient tracking and reduced paper work.”  MCLI’s role in facilitating these interactions is important and the almost unanimous response to the need for more regular facilitation has resulted in MCLI planning a set meeting every two months to enable users to engage directly with MCNet. 

These engagements are a crucial part of the on-going education process for stakeholders as the growth of transit is linked to the success of the SeW implementation and the continued modernisation of transit customs legislation in Mozambique; the first phase of which was published in November 2012.  This legislation zero rates certain transit cargo and obviates the need for bonds and guarantees to be raised, particularly on bulk transit.  MCLI’s view is that the amended legislation is an excellent step in the right direction, but that considerably more work needs to be done to ensure that the optimum environment for transit trade is reached.   “We are seeing an increase in enquiries into our office regarding the use of Maputo port as the port of entry for SADC bound cargo.  This makes sense as the excellent land side logistics on the Maputo Corridor make this corridor an entirely viable option.”

“The MDC has enormous opportunities for growth and this potential brings with it an important push towards greater liberalisation, greater unification, and a deeper sense of regional integration and greater trade facilitation than ever before,” states Mommen. “The AU, COMESA, SADC and NEPAD principle of regional integration is one of the aspects that this region has managed to get right in many ways, because of the significant investment in infrastructure over the past decade.

“As such, the MDC is playing a vital role in making regional integration a reality and in contributing to increased trade and investment in the region,” she concludes.

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