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Having heard so much about the astonishing changes that the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) has made in recent years, Endeavour Magazine spoke with company CEO Barbara Monmen to get to the heart of their success story.




“Our task could be really simple,” Monmen says. “We provide a platform for inward investment on the Corridor; removing barriers along it, coordinating and liaising and facilitating the necessary changes to ensure investment and to unlock barriers to trade.”


he Port of Maputo is in an ideal location for exports to India and the Far East and for transit into the eastern SADC (Southern African Development Community)

region,” she continues. “However, there have had to be a number of developments. For example, when MCLI first started, we had no container lines calling the port, which meant that cargo owners could not ship containers out of the port although they wanted to, so there was the typical chicken and egg scenario.” Until just under a decade ago, infrastructure and economic development had been a serious cause of concern for the governments of Mozambique and South Africa. A major hurdle in any real trade progress was the crumbling rail and road links to the southern city of Johannesburg. With desires to create new investment connections to establish their fluctuating economies, the leaders of both countries decided it was economically and socially important to sustain key elements of the transport corridor that links the city of Johannesburg and the industrial heartland of Southern Africa with the Port of Maputo, the parastatal authority in Mozambique in the southwest Indian Ocean. Thus, the Maputo Development Corridor was launched in 1996, and developed as a Spatial Development Initiative (SDI), an integrated planning tool aimed at promoting investment in regions of the country that were underdeveloped but had great potential for growth. An additional awarding of the port concession in 2003 and an investment of $60m in the port’s rehabilitation, alongside a 20year master plan also aims to see a $1.7bn investment in equipment, training and infrastructure.

Establishing Its Place The aim of MCLI as a non-profit organisation is to act as a viable network to sustain an economically-sound future for all industries which rely on it. Service providers, stakeholders, and infrastructure investors from Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique have all pooled their resources together in order to secure its promotion and further development as the region’s primary logistics transportation route, and are now able to strive for developmental targets rather than the profit margin. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing to begin with. “During the early part of the first decade, there were huge border delays and terrible congestion which compromised the efficiency of the logistics chain into the port itself,” says Monmen. “Our original remit was to promote the benefits of the port on the basis of distance versus the costs of the logistics chain for products in transit from the north-eastern area of South Africa. The port also forms a key departure point for the emerging markets of India and the Far East.” There were also problems with employee resources; with just a small workforce it was rather difficult to get things done. “You can’t manage if people don’t believe in the validity and importance of what they’re doing and while it is a challenge, the changes are substantial


and you can’t argue with the

citrus, vegetable oils and larger exports like cars and Ferro slabs

results,” says Monmen.

are also benefiting. The depth of the channel in the port itself has

You certainly can’t argue

been increased to 11 metres in order to provide smoother access

with the results being generated

to containers, and beyond the port, transport links on the Maputo

by the MCLI. More than $64m

Corridor have been significantly improved, with train journeys

has been invested into the

dropping from a whopping 200 hours to 90 hours. All in all, just under

Port of Maputo since 2003,

$300m has been invested in the Port of Maputo since 2003.





infrastructural development are

Competent Leadership

vast. New warehouses, tugs,

As CEO, Monmen is perfectly placed to oversee a smooth

equipment, operations and quay

transition and worthy initiative. Her background lies in education; she

rehabilitation related to road

worked in the KaNgwane Administration and the Premier’s Office in

and rail improvements in the

the Mpumalanga Government, a province of South Africa, where she

region have all been successful,

worked on a number of project developments. “Prior to that I obtained

as well as updates to the Matola

a Certificate in Development Management from the University of

coal terminal. A further $61m

Manchester in the UK, followed by a short spin at the Cabinet Office

has been invested into the

in London,” she says.

container terminal to increase

“My interest in the Maputo Corridor developed while I lived in

the capacity for cargo depots

Mpumalanga where I worked in the Chamber of Business. I had,

and cranes. Other terminals

during my tenure, begun to explore business relationships between

dealing in produce like sugar,

Nelspruit in South Africa and Maputo. I joined in 2006 as the chief

operations officer and was appointed as CEO in July 2011.” Monmen believes having a clear idea of what needs to happen in order to plan appropriately is the key to the success of a project like the MCLI, and she feels very strongly about economic development and the growth of the private sector in the region. “Until there is a mutual cooperation between the public and private sectors, we’ll always have an issue,” she says. “MCLI has achieved this cooperation to a considerable extent.”

Looking Forward “We want to raise the profile of the Corridor in the SADC (the Southern African Development Community) region generally, and we are particularly keen to deepen our collaboration with the government of Swaziland,” Monmen says. “For the moment we face the challenge that the majority of trade along the Corridor tends to be one way, moving from South Africa to Mozambique. To fully capitalise on what the Corridor is capable of we need to have more growth in bi-directional movement and an increase in the usage of the Corridor as a key transit route into the SADC region.” The on-going success of MCLI and the determined work of Monmen and her team have culminated in a highly productive level of investment into the region, as well as making it easier for the necessary requirements to be handled by stakeholders and governmental departments. The efforts from all parties has enabled a positive and productive direction for the company and Monmen is quick to recognise the achievements: “Thanks to the significant investment over the last decade, the Maputo Corridor has seen incredible opportunities for growth and this will have a consequential knock on effect when the region moves towards a free trade area,” she says. “The drive towards borderless trade on our corridor is a passion that we share with COMESA (the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), EAC (the East African Community), SADC, the AU (African Union), and NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa’s Development). “It is only through the continued partnership of users and service providers, including public sector agencies, that this corridor will reach its full potential as an efficient, predictable, and reliable logistics route servicing the region,” she concludes. As a result of efficient management and timely investment, notable growth in the project has already delivered impressive results in the trade facilitation system. Coupled with effective collaboration and partnerships, MCLI’s projected figures include a cargo volume increase to more than 48.6m tonnes by 2030 and an extension for the Maputo Port Development Company to 2043. All in all, MCLI continues to hold its claim as a very efficient and powerful working machine.

The Port of Maputo is in an ideal location for exports to India and the Far East and for transit into the eastern SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.”


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