Cablegate: Maputo Port Brings Competition...And Corruption

DE RUEHTO #0983/01 2461146
R 031146Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A


This cable is a collaboration between Embassy Maputo and
Embassy Pretoria and is part of a series of reporting on
regional transport infrastructure developments.

1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of Mozambique (GRM) entered
into partnership with private investors to revitalize and
increase port and rail infrastructure capacity, which was
long-neglected during the civil war. Econoffs met with GRM
and private sector representatives to discuss progress with
port and rail rehabilitation and challenges with further
capacity expansions. Cargo volumes at the Port of Maputo are
slowly rising and some auto manufacturers in the region are
beginning to shift traffic from the Port of Durban to the
Port of Maputo. Unfortunately, despite high technology
scanning equipment (ref A), the Port of Maputo is hampered by
corruption. According to a joint Harvard University-IFC
study comparing Durban and Maputo, the probability of paying
a bribe at the Port of Maputo is 53 percent compared to 35
percent in Durban, and the amount of bribes paid in Maputo
are four times higher than in Durban. Bribe payments in
Maputo represent a 130 percent increase in total port costs
per 20 foot container and are equivalent to 14 percent of
total shipping costs. Besides this increased economic cost
to shippers, the Port of Maputo is also hindered by a limited
supply of rail capacity and a dependence on South African
rail capacity. Private investors are considering partnering
with the GRM to revitalize additional rail rolling stock, but
will need incentives to do so. The Port of Maputo cannot
meet its ambitious expansion plans without an ability to
guarantee independent rail service within the region. End

2. (SBU) Econoffs met with representatives of Mozambique
National Railways and Ports Authority (CFM), South African
state-controlled Transnet Freight Rail, South African-based
private shipping and logistics company Grindrod, and Maputo
Port Development Company (MPDC) recently to discuss progress
with rehabilitation of Mozambique's port and rail
infrastructure capacity.

Privatization Leads to Port Rehabilitation

3. (SBU) The Port of Maputo handled about 15 million tons of
cargo per year before independence and the outbreak of the
civil war in 1977, when the port fell into disrepair. The
GRM signed a 15-year concession deal with a group of private
European investors in 2003 to create the MPDC to rehabilitate
the port. The MPDC manages the port and its rehabilitation,
but the physical assets remain the property of the state.
The private consortium controls 51 percent of the MPDC and
the Government of Mozambique (GRM) and CFM hold the remaining
49 percent.

4. (SBU) CFM had a falling-out with the European investors
due to poor management and Grindrod bought their shares in
late 2007. Grindrod then sold half of its shares to Dubai
Ports World (now DP World), which has extensive international
experience with operating container terminals (Note: In the
first half of 2009, DP World began restructuring MPDC, firing
a significant number of the executive staff to include the
CEO, and MPDC sources suggest that the current financial
situation of the port is poor. End Note). Grindrod's
expertise lies in operating bulk cargo facilities. The MPDC
is currently expanding the port to accommodate greater demand
and new-generation, extended-range vessels. The port handled
7.8 million tons of cargo in 2007, its best performance in 25
years. Projects launched by the public-private Maputo
Corridor Logistics Initiative (with stakeholders from
Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland) to support trade
facilitation are also credited with the ports recent success.

5. (SBU) Grindrod representatives believe the port will have
the capacity to handle 30 million tons of cargo per year once
the expansions are completed. Major commodities exported via
Maputo include refined sugar, ferrous metals, and stainless
steel products. A special type of coal preferred in the
Turkish market for indoor heating purposes is exported in
large quantities (approximately 200-250 thousand tons per
month). Ports in Southern Africa have also received a boost
in demand due to the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

MAPUTO 00000983 002 OF 004

Container and bulk cargo are the biggest target for pirates
and major shipping lines have diverted traffic to Southern
African ports as a result.

Corruption at the Port of Maputo

6. (SBU) The Port of Maputo is hampered by corruption
according to a joint Harvard University-IFC study comparing
Durban and Maputo. The study finds that the probability of
paying a bribe at the Port of Maputo is 53 percent compared
to 35 percent in Durban, and the amount of bribes paid in
Maputo are four times higher than in Durban. Bribe payments
in Maputo represent a 130 percent increase in total port
costs per 20 foot container and are equivalent to 14 percent
of total shipping costs.

7. (SBU) The study indicates that port operators in Maputo
have greater discretion to extract bribes due to close
interactions between clearing agents and customs officials,
which represent a 600 percent increase in the average salary
of a Customs official who is the bribe recipient 80 percent
of the time in Maputo. The median bribe in Maputo is
equivalent to 24 percent of the monthly salary of a customs
official, according to Sequeira and Djankov, who note that
despite having one of the highest salaries in Mozambican
public administration, it appears that Customs officials are
motivated to extract bribes because they work, with high
extractive powers in an environment of virtual impunity. The
report also notes that due to the access to information
through the port's scanning initiative (septel), customs
officials wield a &broader toolkit8 of authority to extract
bribes. As a result, shippers in the region have negative
incentives to use the Port of Maputo.

Maputo an Alternative to South African Ports

8. (SBU) Despite higher levels of corruption, industry
analysts believe the partial privatization of the Port of
Maputo has delivered significant efficiencies that allow it
to compete with South African ports operated by Transnet.
Grindrod officials do not describe it as a direct competitor
to Transnet-operated ports, but note that it can serve
instead as a complementary port within a larger network that
serves Sub-Saharan Africa. Transport logistics costs in
Southern Africa can be up to 60 percent of a product's final
cost and Maputo is well-positioned to service Mozambique,
Zimbabwe, and Swaziland more efficiently than South African
ports. Maputo is Southern Africa's closest port to the
rapidly developing mega-markets of Asia and is also the
closest deep-water port to the main South African
manufacturing and agricultural exporting provinces: Gauteng,
Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Maputo provides an additional
gateway for cargo movements and relieves congestion pressure
at Transnet-operated ports.

Car Terminal Attracting Business from Durban

9. (SBU) Grindrod is developing a car terminal in Maputo that
will have the same capacity as the Port of Durban car
terminal once it is completed. The Maputo car terminal can
currently handle about 100-150 new vehicles per hour. Nissan
South Africa has already agreed to utilize the Maputo car
terminal as an alternative to Durban. After global economic
conditions improve, Nissan would also like to export its auto
components from Maputo. Talks have advanced with Ford South
Africa and BMW to export some of their volumes through
Maputo. It is cost-efficient for manufacturers such as
Nissan, who do not have preferential access to the South
African car terminals, to utilize Maputo instead. Nissan
currently exports vehicles to East and West Coasts of Africa
and hopes to export to Europe and North American markets once
the economy improves.

10. (SBU) The new and used vehicle import market in
Mozambique is strong. Ford is importing vehicles from Taiwan
and East Asia for the local market. Heavy-vehicles (trucks
and tractors) are imported from the U.S. for the markets in
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Zimbabwe used to have a
strong market for vehicle imports before the political
turmoil began. The market for construction equipment imports

MAPUTO 00000983 003 OF 004

in the region is also likely to grow with large-scale coal
mining expected to start in 2010 in Tete province, as well as
a variety of MCC-funded public works programs over the next
five years. Manufacturers such as Caterpillar currently ship
their construction equipment to Durban and it is then
transshipped to Maputo for distribution to the rest of the
region. Caterpillar recently conducted a successful trial to
test direct shipments to Maputo.

Rail Capacity Major Impediment to Growth

11. (SBU) CFM is 30 years behind contemporary organizations
such as Transnet due to a lack of infrastructure investments
and the destruction caused by the 16-year long civil war.
Existing rail lines have been rehabilitated since the end of
the war, but they are insufficient to handle demand growth.
The system is composed of 2,983 kilometers of rail and runs
only east-to-west connecting Mozambique to its land-locked
neighbors. Rail connections to facilitate trade within the
country (i.e., north-south links) are still non-existent.
Analysts emphasize that CFM must focus on improving
interconnections between the existing lines to facilitate
port expansions and economic growth throughout the country.
The GRM is also looking at reviving international passenger
rail service between South Africa and Mozambique. There is
market demand for this service and there is an agreement with
Transnet to use Transnet's rolling stock. A trial service
was launched in June.

12. (SBU) The coal terminal at the Port of Maputo is 100
percent reliant on rail, but CFM does not have adequate
rolling stock to handle coal cargo volumes and has to depend
on Transnet's rolling stock. Export of commodities such as
Benzonite from Mozambique to South Africa also depends on
Transnet's rolling stock. (Note: Transnet does not have a
lot of spare capacity due to underinvestment in South African
rolling stock and it would not be in its commercial interest
to provide too much of its limited supply to support CFM
since it does not want the Port of Durban to lose business to
the Port of Maputo during the economic downturn. End Note).
Ferrochrome and other minerals from South Africa are
currently transported by road to Maputo for export to Asia
due to a lack of rail capacity. This increases transport
costs and leads to the degradation of roads and local

--------------------------------------------- ----
Continued Private Investment Key to Future Growth
--------------------------------------------- ----

13. (SBU) Grindrod and DP World have submitted a new Master
Port Development Plan for GRM approval. The plan calls for
increasing capacity to accommodate 12-15 percent growth per
year to eventually reach a capacity of 90 million TEUs per
year by 2017. (Note: A TEU or twenty-foot equivalent unit is
an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the
capacity of container ships and container terminals. It is
based on the volume of a 20-foot long intermodal container.
End Note.) MPDC is also focusing on improving skills
development among the local staff. Dubai Port World is
planning on additional infrastructure investments including
new mobile cranes. Support for the development of the
24-hour, one-stop border project with South Africa should
also facilitate cargo movements required for continued
expansions at the Port of Maputo (ref B).

14. (SBU) Grindrod told post that it was willing to partner
with CFM on developing additional rolling stock capacity in
Mozambique. There is out-of-service rolling stock in
Mozambique that could be rehabilitated with private
investments. Grindrod is waiting to see how the GRM reacts
to the new Master Port Development Plan, with any new
investment in rolling stock dependant on whether Grindrod is
able to successfully extend its current concession by 10
years. Finally, Grindrod is cautious about alienating its
relationship with Transnet, which is the biggest transport
logistics player in the Southern African market, and views
the Port of Maputo as both a complementary and competitor
port. Unfortunately, Transnet has little incentive to
partner with GRM to provide additional rail rolling stock
when it is not in Transnet's commercial interest.


MAPUTO 00000983 004 OF 004


15. (SBU) The GRM cannot attract additional international
exporters or importers to meet its ambitious expansion plans
without guarantees of greater transparency at the Port of
Maputo as well as independent rail service within the region.
Further improvements in the Port of Maputo and its
associated rail infrastructure will inevitably reduce overall
transport logistics costs and facilitate regional trade
growth; however, the port's growth will continue to be
hindered until the GRM finds the political will to prosecute
corrupt Customs officials and limit opportunities for
bribery. The GRM should first deal with corruption in
Customs and then consider building on their partnerships with
Grindrod and other private international investors to
rehabilitate and develop additional rail infrastructure to
reduce dependence on South African rail capacity.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Sudan: 15 Attacks On Health Facilities And Workers In Two Months

With the crisis escalating in Sudan, there have been 15 reports of attacks on healthcare workers and health facilities since last November, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday... More>>

Kazakhstan: Bachelet Urges Peaceful Resolution Of Grievances
Amid alarming reports of deadly violence in Kazakhstan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday urged all, including security forces, protesters and others, to refrain from violence and to seek a peaceful resolution of grievances... More>>

Pitcairn Island’s Christmas Present: Two-year Covid-19 Lockdown Lifted
The 50 inhabitants of remote Pitcairn Island, a tiny one-by-two-mile volcanic outcropping in the far reaches of the South Pacific Ocean, have just received the best Christmas present they could hope for...

Tigray: Agencies Suspend Aid As ‘Scores’ Are Killed Due To Airstrikes
Recent airstrikes on camps for internally displaced persons and refugees in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, have reportedly killed scores of civilians, including children, and left many more injured... More>>

UN News: For 25th Year In A Row, Greenland Ice Sheet Shrinks

2021 marked the 25th year in a row in which the key Greenland ice sheet lost more mass during the melting season, than it gained during the winter, according to a new UN-endorsed report issued on Friday... More>>

Afghanistan: Economy In ‘Freefall’, Threatening To Take Entire Population With It

Afghanistan’s economy is in “free fall”, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told a special meeting on Sunday, warning that if decisive and compassionate action is not taken immediately, it may “pull the entire population with it”... More>>