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Opinion: Mozambique local opportunities discourse is utopia and discursive dissonance

Small and Medium Business must occupy a seat at the Megaproject discussion and negotiation table

The boom in the value chains of opportunities arising from the beginning of the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources placed Mozambique in the position of the most beloved child in the face of international interests, and filled the nation’s entrepreneurs with expectations.

Such expectations only cease in the face of the harsh reality of the crisis faced by the country, with slowdown in economic growth, unsustainability for the companies and the consequences we all know and feel.

In addition, Anadarko announcing USD 2,500 million in opportunities for Mozambican companies, presents a challenge for us, who must follow all the procedures established, so as not to be left behind to the detriment of the foreign companies installed in Mozambique.

It seems obvious that such encouraging “local opportunities” aren’t really aimed at local business, unless the government agrees to assume and therefore privilege the foreign companies installed in Mozambique to the detriment of national SMEs, since it’s public knowledge that the later would hardly pass the contests, for being far from the international quality standards, besides still being struggling with certification difficulties in their production and services. As an example, certification costs more than $50,000.00 and not all SMEs have the ability to finance their certification. Not to mention the modernization and adaptation of their equipment and technologies, thanks to the lack of capital.

At the same time, it’s the discursive discord of the government that at certain times is aware of the challenges of the local SMEs and commits to make efforts to help them, but in other occasions, it annuls all its patriotic logic, positioning itself in favor of the extractivism of the multinationals, camouflaging them as local industries, delaying the endogenous development and worse, postponing and exempting the creation of political conditions for the reduction of external dependence to increase the capacity of internal production.

It’s a utopia to think that the megaprojects will distribute business opportunities to the Mozambican companies, if they don’t offer products or services with certified quality and don’t follow the terms established for the projects. Until the government defines clear development lines for the private sector, with organizations such as the CTA and other associations that have the role of representing SMEs in the opportunity negotiation tables, the national business will continue to lose opportunities to the foreigners companies.

The discourse of local opportunities doesn’t go beyond music and cocktails, which are like a crank that feeds false expectations in mechanical minds, forgetting that, despite the presence of multinationals, there are rare, if not non-existent, cases in which local SMEs have opportunities.

The confederation and business associations should bring this issue to be discussed with the government. There are several ways to support the financing of the certification of local companies, it can be by the use of a guarantee fund so that companies can obtain a loan at reduced interest rates or even without the application of any interest rate. It’s assumed that the CTA and related associations take their place at the discussion and negotiation table on key issues like this, and for example on the law of national content. In my opinion, the law of national content must guarantee the creation of local industries and, consequently, their economic growth and development.

The government in turn must opt for a decision-making process, result of inclusive debates but, most importantly, it must use its sovereignty to safeguard the interests of the country and the national business community, negotiating, for example, that at least 45% of the companies are trained to serve these projects. There are examples within and outside of Africa, where training and the creation of funds have been obtained so that local businesses don’t disappear, as well as Sovereign Funds, so that the Economy doesn’t depend on its mineral resources.

FACIM is a good bet for the exhibition of the production of small and medium business, to see what the world produces and brings to our market. But it also opens our minds and makes us think about the development we want and the role that each actor must perform in order to achieve such development.

Therefore, it’s up to the entrepreneurs of small and large companies to know how to make the best possible use, learning new ways to develop and expose their businesses, and creating alliances with more experienced companies that can add value to our goods and services.

One comment

  1. Well said. It seems Anadarko will aid SMEs in getting adequate certification. That’s step in the right direction.

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