Posts Tagged ‘Mozambique’

Türkei: UN-Konferenz für die Ärmsten der Armen

Dienstag, Juni 7th, 2011

“The world’s poorest

by Wendy Kristianasen

In May Istanbul hosted the 4th United Nations conference of the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs), with their 800 million people, half living in extreme poverty. Turkey is the first developing country to host the 10-yearly mega-meeting.

Nothing much has changed for the LDCs since the last such meeting in Brussels. With the global economic crisis, the problems are worse. There were 25 LDCs in 1971, now there are 48; and only three countries were ever able to graduate from that group. They account for nearly 13% of world population, but only 1% of the global economic output.

As the summit opened on 9 May, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on all countries to keep their promises to help the world’s poorest, and outlined the need for civil society support. Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul said the gap was widening in “income, education, child mortality, agricultural productivity and export performance… This situation is not sustainable. While a bottom billion lives on less than $1 a day, the rest of the international community cannot turn a blind eye to their sufferings.” The situation was alarming “not just morally, but politically … the nexus between development, peace and security cannot be ignored.”

The civil society forum, concurrent with the summit, with 1,200 representatives from 100 countries, had similar themes. Dr Arjun Karki, chair of the steering committee, was angry at broken promises:“ We are frustrated…the Brussels programme of action drawn up in 2001 failed to make a significant dent in the poverty and vulnerability in LDCs” through promised development aid. Strategic interests, including trade and the war on terror, meant that 55% of aid went to just eight LDCs in 2007: Afghanistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mozambique, Uganda, Bangladesh and the DRC. So 41 countries – 84% of LDC population – had to share 45% of aid.

The summit drew up the ambitious Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) – which aims to halve the number of LDCs by 2021. How can that be done or how, at least, can advances towards that goal be made? The emphasis was on foreign investment and the private sector to lift millions out of poverty, on productive capacity (energy, infrastructure and agriculture) and on South-South cooperation. This was very different from the last summit which concentrated on health, education and social issues. The new approach seemed to be accepted by the LDCs. According to the UN under-secretary general and high representative for the LDCs Cheick Sidi Diarra, “The stress on productive capacity is favoured by LDCs as a means to modernise and diversify economies, create jobs … and eventually eradicate poverty.”

Gul spoke of the LDCs’ investment potential: “With their large populations and rich natural resources, investing in the LDCs … can create a win-win situation.” He thought the Istanbul plan would “create a new momentum” and stressed the need for South-South cooperation (Ankara’s development assistance, including that of Turkish NGOs, has risen to nearly $2bn a year).

Turkey’s private sector took a prominent role: Tuskon, the Turkish confederation of businessmen and industrialists, along with Tobb (Turkish union of chambers and commodity exchanges), organised a trade fair and a global partnership forum, inviting businessmen from LDCs to Istanbul as part of the trade bridge initiative. Tuskon, with 30,000 members, mainly small and medium-sized enterprises eager to expand abroad, is an active player in Turkey’s global economic relations, finding new trade partners and export markets, many in LDCs (1).

Civil society groups were unimpressed by the focus on the private sector and condemned the “cynical way” development had been sidelined. Its forum criticised the Istanbul plan for repackaging old economic liberalisation policies, even if it conceded the private sector had a useful role. It warned of ‘companies that have unsustainably exploited minerals, fish and forests, land grabs that have stolen the resources and livelihoods of local people, biofuel plantations that have destroyed forests and agricultural lands, food dumping that has destroyed farmers’ livelihoods and projects that leave local people with no water and a polluted environment.’

LDC delegates took a more pragmatic view. “The government can’t operate businesses,” said Alimamy Kargbo, from Sierra Leone. “Private companies create employment. I support private sector companies with adequate regulation. Parliament must make sure they follow the agreements they have ratified” (2).

There were other independent voices at Istanbul – an intellectuals’ forum chaired by Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University. He criticised the UN’s failure to recognise refugee camp dwellers as LDCs, or countries with a population of more than 75 million. “Palestine, under occupation for more than 25 years, should be considered an LDC,” he said, along with other disadvantaged communities. He believed the Istanbul programme was “allowing an independent, detached perspective that brings together the views of leading intellectuals … who have no vested interests in either the private or public sector” (3).

The choice of Istanbul was symbolic. Turkey is still known as a developing country (4), even though it now has the seventh largest economy in Europe and its GDP is 17th in the world. (The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development expects Turkey to be the fastest-growing OECD economy in 2011-17 with an annual rate of 6.7%.)

Turkey’s host role therefore marked the country’s new prominence in the international arena, and the importance of other new global players in development: Brazil, India and China.

Can Turkey’s investment in the summit lead to real change? At Istanbul airport, a Sudanese delegate was trying to untie the string of what had once been a fine, shiny balloon: “It’s to take back to show my kids.” He addressed the wider problem with a knowing smile: “Istanbul? Just one more talking shop. Still, let’s see.” Also at the airport were some 50 Turkmen women, most in traditional costume, on their way back home to Ashgabat after the daily flight to Istanbul with hundreds of big boxes and parcels of Turkish textiles. Turkmenistan isn’t an LDC.”

Wendy Kristianasen is editorial director of Le Monde diplomatique’s English edition

(1) See Alain Vicky, “Turkey moves into Africa” and Wendy Kristianasen, “Turkey’s growing trade network”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, May 2011.

(2) Mark Tran, “Least developed countries”, The Guardian, London, 13 May 2011; www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/may/13/least-developed-countries-ambitious-plan

(3) Intellectuals Forum, Bogazicigi University, 9-11 May 2011.

(4) The World Bank rated Turkey 79th in the world league in 2009, with a gross national per capita income of $8.7.

 

(Quelle: Le Monde diplomatique – English edition.)

Mozambique: Ran an die Kohle

Dienstag, Juli 6th, 2010

Downside in scramble for coal in Mozambique

Published Date: 26-06-2010
Source: Financial Times
Source Date: 03-06-2010
Eight power plants in India, and three steel factories in China, are said to be ‘screaming for product’ from a major newly-exploited coal field in Mozambique.

Two Indian groups – Jindal and Coal India – have concessions in Tete province, as do the Australian company, Riversdale, and Ncondezi – a new outfit, now planning to raise $60m (€49m, £41m) through an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange over coming weeks.

And the world’s biggest iron ore producer, Vale of Brazil, is well-advanced in its own plans.

However, basic infrastructure, to get the coal to export markets, is sorely lacking.

Inevitably, poor subsistence farmers in the target area have protested against being forcibly removed to make way for the new mines.

Mood upbeat in scramble for coal

One of the largest reserves of high-quality coal lies in Tete, a remote Mozambican town where workers and investment are pouring in. But infrastructure is a problem, and not everyone is happy.

By Richard Lapper in Tete, Mozambique

Financial Times

3 June 2010

Since the workers from Vale, Brazil’s giant mining company, started to drink at his bar, fortune has favoured Mario Sálimo. With business growing week by week, the 47-year-old has opened extra rooms, added a restaurant and installed a dance floor.

At weekends Mario’s Bar, near the clogged and dusty centre of Tete, is open until five or six o’clock in the morning. And the bar is not the only thing booming in this remote Mozambican town, which grew up as a trading post on the Zambezi river.

Tete sits directly above one of the world’s largest reserves of high-quality coal, and investment is pouring in, with Brazilian, Australian, Indian and other interests committing hundreds of millions of dollars to mining projects. As with Angolan, Nigerian or Sudanese oil, the industrial growth of China and India is driving demand.

No coal has yet been mined at the huge open pits that are planned, but foreign technicians, engineers and geologists, along with migrant workers from neighbouring rural provinces, have begun to make their homes in Tete. The town’s population has almost trebled to about 300,000 in a decade or so.

Property prices are rising, with rents more than doubling in the past year. “It’s like a snowball,” says Mr Sálimo. “It was a city without expectations. Now everyone wants to come here.” And each week small businesses – accountants, information technicians and hairdressers – are springing up.

The coal reserves are the reason for everything. Specialists say they are the most valuable to be discovered anywhere in the world since production began at the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia, in the 1960s.

Tete has billions of tons of both thermal coal – used in power plants – and harder, more expensive coking coal, which is mixed with iron ore to make steel. The coal is just below the surface, runs to depths of 30 metres and is relatively cheap to mine.

“You have heard of the scramble for Africa. This is the scramble for coal,” says Felix Fischer, the representative of the International Monetary Fund in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. He says big investments in titanium, aluminium, gas and other resources are steadily transforming the country’s prospects. The growth rates achieved during the past 17 years are comparable to those of the east Asian economies in the 1970s and early 1980s.

With Vale expecting to start exporting coal later this year, that rate of expansion looks set to increase. Australia’s Riversdale, which has reserves of about 13bn tons but does not plan to begin production until the middle of next year, has been besieged by potential buyers who want to secure long-term supplies.

Steve Mallyon, managing director of Riversdale, says eight power plants in India and three steel factories in China are “screaming for product”. He adds: “Twelve months ago, China wasn’t even on our horizon.”

Other operators are queuing up to get involved. Two large Indian coal groups – Jindal and Coal India – both have concessions in Tete. So does Ncondezi, a start-up company that plans to raise $60m (€49m, £41m) through an initial public offering in London in the next few weeks.

The big difficulty is how to get the product to market. A railway that runs from the port of Beira to Moatize, 30 miles north of Tete, was brought back into operation this year by Indian operators. But its capacity – and that of the port – is limited.

Vale wants to develop another railway through Malawi to the coast at Nacala, where it plans to build a port. Riversdale is looking at shipping coal on barges down the Zambezi to Beira, where port facilities are planned.

Some observers are sceptical. “I was amazed how companies were putting so many millions into coal development without knowing how they would get it to the market,” says Mr Fischer at the IMF.

But Mr Mallyon says: “Once you have the resource, it justifies the spending on infrastructure going forward.” He adds that Tete’s existing infrastructure is better than that found in the remote reaches of Australia in the 1960s when mining companies began to exploit the Bowen Basin. “There was no airport, no telecommunications and no water for half the year,” he says.

Nonetheless, even before production has started, Tete’s infrastructure is creaking. The national airline struggles to fly the one commercial flight a day to Maputo. The 1950s suspension bridge, linking the coal fields to the city itself, seems to be in a permanent state of disrepair, with queues of trucks waiting to cross. Electricity, water and rubbish collection leave much to be desired.

And there are signs that Tete’s poorer residents resent the disruption. Subsistence farmers have been moved from their homes and land to new model villages, making way for digger trucks to start digging the coal. “People were unhappy about the way Vale moved them,” says Tomas Selemane, a researcher at the Centre for Public Integrity, a human rights group in Maputo. “There wasn’t enough consultation with them.”

Workers are glad to find employment, but the number of jobs offered by Vale and Riversdale is relatively small – a few thousand workers have been taken on. Those looking for work vastly exceed the number of jobs available, pushing down wages accordingly.

Armando Rasil, 38, is one Tete resident who is fortunate enough to have found a job with Riversdale, but he struggles to feed his family on a monthly salary of $110. “Things are changing here, but I still don’t feel established,” he says.

At Mario’s Bar, however, the mood is upbeat. “People can think about the future now. They have plans,” says Mr Sálimo, who says he is buzzing with business ideas and plans to buy a nearby apartment block. “We didn’t have anything before. Now perspectives are changing.”

 

(Quelle: Mines and Communities.)