According to Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, the Demining Programme that began 20 years ago in Maputo Province, has successfully declared that almost every landmine in Maputo has been removed. However, the Ottawa Convention had expected the demining efforts to have been done by 2009, but Mozambique was granted an extension of five years.
Maputo province, including Gaza, Zambezia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa, are six of the provinces in Mozambique to be declared free from landmines. Sofala, Manica, Tete and Inhambane are the only provinces left with 4.2 million SQ.M. of land still having landmines.
UN’s Development Programme Representative Jennifer Topping said that “the mission is not yet finished” and more can still be done for Mozambique. Foreign Minister Banze said that he is appealing to the commitment of the country’s partners to finally clear the last of the mines until the end of 2014.
Demining teams have destroyed 5,492 anti-personnel mines, 9,000 anti-tank mines and 4,000 unexploded munitions. They have also removed mines from electricity pylons.
The Mozambican Armed Forces have handled the task in its entirety and in two decades, 14 land mine accidents in different provinces have happened.
Banze said Maputo’s freedom from mines will help it become fertile for investment and development.
The French government granted a soft loan of $44 million to finance the rehabilitation of the Maputo International Airport runway. Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang, French Minister of Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq and the Maputo Director of the French Development Agency Virigine Dago signed the agreement on Monday.
The soft loan has 20 years maturity time and includes a grace period of over four years. It has an interest rate of 0.79% after the grace period.
Finance Minister Manuel Chang said that the $44 million loan will help in the expansion of the Mozambique International Airport because it can add new international and domestic terminals. It will also provide passengers the safety and convenience they deserve.
The total cost for rehabilitating the international airport’s runway is at $70.5 million dollars. Aside from France, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Union-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund or ITF will be providing $25 million and $1.5 million respectively.
Around 38 French business people looking to improve their economic relationships with Mozambique accompanied French Minister of Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq. She said that the Economic Services section will be opened soon in Maputo’s French Embassy.
The rehabilitation of the runway will give Mozambique a better for of travel, airport security and cargo handling facilities. It also targets the increase of tourism for the country.