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By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved a grant of $ 47.09 million for the first phase of the Pemba-Lichinga Integrated Development Corridor in Mozambique, a special agro-industrial processing zone.

The grant, from the African Development Fund, will help improve agricultural productivity and agribusiness development in Niassa province by building institutional capacities, skills and entrepreneurship to stimulate the growth of the agricultural value chain.

The project will pilot the improvement of policy and development coordination between Niassa province and national departments, in particular with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones are integrated development initiatives designed to focus agrifood processing activities in areas with high agricultural potential in order to boost productivity, integrate production, processing and marketing of selected products.

These zones will allow agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the same neighborhood in order to reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.

Coupled with the establishment of adequate infrastructure (energy, water, roads, ICT, among others) in rural areas with high agricultural potential, the SAPZ will attract investments from agro-industrialists / private entrepreneurs to contribute to economic development and social welfare in rural areas.

The initiative is in line with the Mozambique National Development Strategy 2015-2035, which aims to improve the living conditions of the population through the structural transformation of the economy and the expansion and diversification of the production base.

It is in line with the concerted efforts of the international community to help Mozambique promote inclusive economic growth and peacebuilding in the north.

The project also aligns with the AfDB’s Country Strategy Paper 2018-2022 for Mozambique, with a focus on the northern provinces, and with the Bank‘s Feed Africa strategy for agricultural transformation.

Commenting on the Council’s approval, Mozambican Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Carlos Mesquita, described the project as a “game changer” that would transform the economy, foster social inclusion and promote peace in addressing important factors favorable to industry such as infrastructure for development.

On the lender’s side, the national director of the bank for Mozambique, Mr. Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, underlined the importance of the special agro-industrial processing zones as a shared facility allowing agricultural producers, processors, aggregators and distributors to operate in the same neighborhood to reduce transaction costs, share business development services and increase productivity and competitiveness.

“SAPZs can promote the participation of small producers in value chains and added value, thus providing an inclusive development model,” he said.

The project will build on a long list of bank interventions in northern Mozambique to provide infrastructure and unlock the agricultural potential of the host corridor.

The most recent of these Bank-supported projects are the N13 Cuamba-Muíta and N14 Montepuez-Ruaca roads connecting the provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa.

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