MAPUTO, The Mozambican and Malawian governments have signed an addendum to the Agreement on the Nacala Development Corridor, which will pave the way for investment of a further 2.5 billion US dollars in this rail and port transportation system.

The corridor runs from Nacala Bay, on the northern Mozambican coast, to the Malawian border, and then through southern Malawi to reach the Moatize coal basin in the western Mozambican province of Tete. Nacala Bay, regarded as the best deep-water harbour in East Africa, now contains two ports — the long established Nacala commercial port, and the recently constructed mineral port at Nacala-a-Velha.

Addressing the signing ceremony here Friday, Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said the addendum brings the agreement between Mozambique and Malawi, signed in September 2000, into line with the current challenges in the transport and logistics sectors, emerging from the recent growth in the economies of both countries.

He believed that the addendum would make viable the search for funding of 2.5 billion USD to expand the geographical coverage and to modernize the Nacala Development Corridor.

Partners in this project are Japan, Brazil and the Brazilian mining giant, Vale, which financed the railway from Moatize, across Malawi, to Nacala.

Mozambican Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita said the central objectives of the addendum were the regulation and co-ordination of cross-border aspects as the railway crosses Malawi, requiring practical matters of a legal nature, concerning Customs, to be taken into account.

As for the economics of the transport corridor, Mesquita believed it should not be limited to coal exports, which he estimated at nine million tonnes this year. The line should carry traffic in both directions, he said, including Malawian trade.

Mesquita believed that modernization of the Nacala Corridor would have an impact on the development of both countries, providing logistical support for agriculture, tourism and trade. Other countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sub-region, such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, could also make use of the Nacala Corridor.

We must maximize and optimize use of the railway, he said. The target of 2.5 billion dollars to be raised would improve the rail facilities and capacity on both sides of the border.