New road revives economic activity for traders and residents in northern Mozambique

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You can recognize Hamuza Nakwala, a small trader in northern Mozambique, by his skullcap, his beard, and his old black bicycle.

Nakwala trades in agricultural products (maize, soybeans, sesame) from the neighboring farms of Nacala, and delivers them on his bicycle to Cuamba, located about 50 kilometers away. A new road has made that journey much more bearable.

“Before the road, I had to ride my bike for almost seven hours. Now it takes less than two hours to get to the town of Cuamba,” says Nakwala. Today, he can even easily make the round trip twice a day without any major issues.

Shopkeepers and roadside vendors in the towns he passes through no longer have to wait for customers for hours on end.

Economic activity has increased in the region. Journeys are shorter, roads are safer and traffic is more fluid. As a result, more products are now available and more affordable.

The road benefits the entire population of the two provinces it passes through. Some two million people are now able to move around more easily and are able to access schools and health centers that they had difficulty reaching in the past.

The new road stretches over 600 km through Nampula and Niassa, two of Mozambique’s northern provinces. It links the port city of Nacala — the deepest natural harbor on the east coast of Africa — to Lichinga, the capital of Niassa province. In the past, it took a whole day to travel almost 700 km between the two cities; today, the journey takes nine hours.

The road is also part of the Southern African Development Community’s major strategic regional transport corridor, which links Nacala to the Zambian capital Lusaka over 1,700 km.

The African Development Bank Group is the largest donor of the project, and allocated $190 million through the African Development Fund, its concessional funding window. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the European Union together contributed $164 million, with a further €46 million from the Mozambican government.