March 14, 2012

"Mega-Projects" creating jobs for youth

The Mozambican government regards large scale investments "as poles that generate development in terms of jobs created, infrastructures built, access to new technologies and knowledge, expansion of markets, earning more revenue, encouraging small and medium businesses, and fighting poverty", declared the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia. He was speaking in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in response to a question raised by the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) about what measures the government is taking to ensure employment for young people.

Cuereneia pointed out that the mega-projects now under way have created a large number of jobs, many of them occupied by young people. Thus to date the mining industry in the western province of Tete has created 11,446 jobs "of which 9,714 are held by young Mozambicans". The largest of the existing projects is the open cast coal mine operated by the Brazilian company Vale. In constructing the mine, Vale hired 6,130 workers, 83 per cent of whom were Mozambicans, most of them young. Huge forestry projects were also creating large numbers of jobs. One such project in the northern province of Niassa has already created 2,200 jobs, while the Ifloma timber project in Muanza district, in Sofala province, "has the potential to create 1,830 new jobs", said the Minister. A much larger forestry project is planned by the Portuguese company Portucel, which will invest 2.3 billion US dollars in planting eucalyptus and producing paper in Manica province. At its peak, this project will employ 8,500 workers, Cuereneia said. The oldest of the mega-projects, the Mozal aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo, has created about 1,000 direct jobs, and 800 indirect ones in the various companies that supply the smelter with goods and services.

Cuereneia pointed out that the spin-offs from Mozal included the rehabilitation of the port of Matola, the construction of electricity sub-stations, a digital telecommunications centre, the creation of the Beluluane industrial park, and new roads and residential complexes. The District Development Fund (FDD) has been a major source of employment. This fund started in 2006 as the allocation of a lump sum of seven million meticais (256,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) to each of the country's 128 districts, to be lent to people proposing viable projects that would create jobs and boost food production. Cuereneia said that to date the FDD has financed 66,000 projects, and helped generate over 240,000 jobs.

The government's "Programme to Support Youth Initiatives", he added, has provided training for 18,000 young people in business management, and has financed 513 income generating projects. Moreover, he emphaised that the government's employment and professional training strategy made more than 70,000 new candidates available for the labour market every year. Cuereneia warned that many other investment projects would take a long time to mature and so "significant impacts are not visible in a short term perspective. We must know how to sow now in order to reap in the future". (AIM)

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