One of the main promises of Mozambique’s Economic Acceleration Measures Package (PAE) announced by President Nyusi on August 2022 was to deliver a path to make the country more competitive and more accessible to investors.
Roughly 6 months on, two measures, in particular, are showing that political will and proper management can actually create short-term impacts. These measures although not yet fully implemented, are addressing two areas where the country has struggled in the past: the visa regime and trade accessibility.
Online Visa applications
In early December 2022, on the occasion of the Ministry of Interior coordinative council, President Nyusi announced the launch of the country’s eVisa platform, a website allowing prospective visitors to apply for pre-authorizations to travel to the country.
Mozambique has been for many years one of the toughest countries to obtain a Visa in the region. Before the introduction of the platform, embassies observed different procedures, fees, and timeframes and a traveler could wait for weeks to hear that a document was missing or that a Visa was not approved, making it traveling and investing in the country a real challenge.
Today’s Mozambique’s eVisa platform commits the country to respond to applications within 5 days, but general feedback places an average response at 24 hours and the few issues reported are usually created by users not uploading the required documentation. Even so, the system responds by indicating the issue, and users usually receive their visa authorization within hours. Since its inception, the platform received and processed over 6700 applications for Visas.
The measure of the stimulus package addressing the Visa regime also includes a waiver to selected countries. Legislation approving the measure has already passed and according to sources in the Government, the regulation and the list of countries to be exempted from Visas to Mozambique should take effect around April.
Better trade logistics
Another remarkable impact of the package relates to the improvement of competitiveness in the country’s logistic corridors. Mozambique has a privileged natural position to be the gateway for the hinterland’s international trade.
A number of developments have taken place in the recent past but mostly related to infrastructure. The deep port of Nacala in the north went through a much-needed refurbishment, Beira port and Maputo Port enhanced its infrastructure significantly, the latter constantly reported volume growth. Nevertheless, one of the major deterrents for shipping companies and logistic operations regarding Mozambique has always remained the bureaucratic processes and fees practiced by authorities.
As a direct result of the removal of the temporary vehicle import fees (+/-US$11 each way), at one of the main borders with South Africa, in Maputo’s Ressano Garcia, where trucks once waited anywhere between 5 to 11 hours in the 3 km stretch between borders, the average waiting time went down to only 3 hours. In addition, traffic crossing the border went up 9% in January and there are strong indications that smaller operators who previously refrained from border crossing due to costs are now operating on this route.
There’s also a sense of growing anticipation for the 30-day multiple entry regime for customs procedures that is due to come into effect on March 14th. Sources in the private sector already confirmed a visible gain in productivity and efficiency.